Do You Notice Hurting People?

Almost a decade ago, there was a movement that dealt with the rise in motorcycle accidents. It started with a simple billboard campaign, “Start Seeing Motorcycles.” Unlike some ads, this one worked. It got the attention of motorists, and many changed their driving behavior. I became more aware of bikers on the road. That was easy to do, since at the time I lived in Harley country.

Raising Awareness for Hurting People

But that simple little sign got me thinking. Imagine the Church starting a campaign to remind us of the mission of God. What could the Church do to have the same impact? Maybe we should start a bulletin and church sign campaign with the phrase “Start Seeing Hurting People.” The hurting people would be blessed if we, the Church, noticed the suffering that is all around in our town, in our neighborhoods, even in our pews, and were moved to action.
We run across hurting people all the time, but our lives are often too scheduled for us to either notice or stop long enough to pay attention. This reminds me of the man born blind in John 9. He suffered from a condition all hurting people are afflicted with: sin.

Common Characteristics

Those sin characteristics are common in hurting people.

First, the man was blind.

Paul describes this condition in Ephesians 4:18, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” So many of the people who pass by every day seem to have their lives all together, but they are struggling to understand the basics of spiritual things. And it is easy for believers to take on the disciples’ mindset and see those people’s plight as a subject for theological debate. It is much easier to discuss an abstract subject like “sin” than it is to minister to a concrete need in the life of a person. But Jesus didn’t see the man as a subject to be debated. Rather, He saw a person in need of mercy. Doing ministry takes time, engagement, open eyes, and compassionate hearts.

Second, the man was begging. 

The cries of those in need were overwhelming when I served in poor communities. There was so much pain and human suffering. For this beggar, it seemed that many people had decided it was easier to tune him out and dismiss him than to help him. The unsaved in our world are poor in God’s sight. Yet those begging are perhaps rich, though not in the eyes of the world. They are begging for something to satisfy their deepest needs.

And finally, he was helpless.

This beggar did not have the power to save himself. It is natural for us to concentrate on the sin, the condition. But Jesus answers a question that persists in our mind: what role does sin, past or present, play on our current condition? Jesus eliminates that ambiguity by making it clear that no special sin of the man’s parents is to blame. His blindness served a divine purpose. There are events and situations in our life where God uses our trials, our tribulations to lift up the work of God. Jesus said this man’s blindness serves a divine purpose: so it could manifest the power of God in him. 

Spiritual Blindness

Blindness was not only affecting this poor beggar. The disciples would also be sent on a mission to deal with another spiritual blindness. The Gospel is the vehicle of God that works mightily to bring spiritual and, in this man’s case, physical regeneration. What a privilege we as believers have to share this Good News of Christ with physically, emotionally, and spiritually hurting people. My plea is that we would see people more through the eyes of Our Savior, to make the world a more compassionate place. 

Learn how to reach God’s people, who are both sinners and saints, by ordering Redeemed: Our Lives as Sinners and Saints by Dan Hoppen below. 

Order Redeemed

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Written by

Keith Haney

Rev. B. Keith Haney is Assistant to the President for Missions, Human Care, and Stewardship of Iowa District West. He has been an ordained pastor for twenty-seven years and has served multi-ethnic urban congregations in Detroit, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. He is the author of numerous devotionals, including One Nation under God: Healing Racial Divides in America. He is married to Miriam (Bickel) Haney, and they have six children and one grandchild.

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