24th Sunday in Ordinary Time: “Walking in Sacred Sensitivity”
1 Timothy 6:17-19
We are glad to be here because Jesus is here with us! Every Sunday, He stands here with His arms open. Whether we come or we don’t come, He is waiting. We can pray at home; we can sing songs at home. We can go to the mall and praise the Lord, but something unique happens when God’s people gather. Psalm 149 says, “Let the two-edged sword be in their mouth and in their lips.” We are not only worshipping God, but we are drawing a two-edged sword that will begin to rebuke and to challenge the enemy that has tried to take on lives of people. Amos was very vivid about this when he said, “Woe to those who are complacent and at ease at Samaria.” There is a world crying out for help.
There was a father and a son that stopped by a convenient store. The father went in to get a pack of potato chips. He opened it and gave it to his son. As they were driving away, the father was taking from the son’s potato chips. The son said, “Don’t! This is mine!” The father began to realize three lessons about him and God. First lesson is: the potato chips were not really his son’s. It was bought by the money he worked for and earned to buy the potato chips. Second lesson is: anytime that the father takes the potato chips from the son, he can say, “No, you wait until dinner to eat them.” The third lesson is: the father doesn’t really need the potato chips. He will survive without it, but what he was trying to teach the son was how to handle a blessing.
This is what Ordinary Time is all about. It is supposed to be a time to walk in the life of blessings. But are we handling them the way the Father intended for us to handle it? Or are we busy with our own agendas and schedules and have no time for God? Blessings were meant by God to point us to Him. The potato chips were meant by the father for the son to realize, “My Dad bought this for me. Anytime, he can take it away because it is really his, not mine.”
We have looked at blessings always from a human perspective. We have looked at what we have based on the satisfaction of our needs. We look at the provisions rather than the Provider. We want the healing rather than the Healer. We look at the blessings rather than the Blessed One. However, blessings were meant by God for all of us to see Him and His provisions. What is God’s view of blessings? How does God see blessings to fit into the lives of His children?
Our theme this Sunday is about Sacred Sensitivity. I believe that this virtue is a very vital one for us today, what with the things that are happening in our lives today. Sensitivity is defined as the ability to use the senses in order to feel and to know what is around us and how we are to respond to them. Aside from the five physical senses, we have the emotional senses and spiritual senses which God has fashioned into our being. They are all given by God so that we can be capable of discerning and feeling the things around us or the things which are happening in our lives so that we can respond to them.
Sacred sensitivity is the ability to use our senses for God’s purposes. It helps us to understand what God is saying and what He wants us to do. What is happening to our lives? What is happening to our family members? Usually, we respond to these questions according to our way – in the way we were trained by the world and by the way people advise us. Hardly do we come to a point and say, “Lord, how do I respond to this?"
After a long day last Friday, I came home and was met by a group of young boys near my home and they asked money to buy food for themselves. I prayed with them first, and I was about to shelve out money from my pocket. This was being sensitive, but I was stopped by the Lord and He said, “Don’t do that.” I panned my eyes and I saw a young boy who was standing behind. He lives with his Lola because his parents abandoned him. The Lord said to me, “Give to him,” and I gave him money so that he could buy food for him and his Lola. There were two needs that we could easily meet here, but the need that God sees and the need that He wants us to fill is what we consider sacred sensitivity. We need to be able to discern and understand what God is saying and what He wants us to do. 1 Chronicles 12:32b says, “All these men understood the signs of the times (this is sensitivity) and knew the best course for Israel to take.” The latter is sacred sensitivity.
The gospel today is about two characters. One was a very rich man who lived in daily luxury of the finest clothes, the most comfortable home, with the best food and cuisine every day. Everything was just perfect and excellent as far as his provisions are concerned. In contrast to this rich man is a very poor, destitute beggar named Lazarus. He was a beggar covered with ulcerated sores. He was so helpless he was unable to ward off the street dogs that pestered him. He is the picture of utter poverty, homeless, helpless, and no one gave him the time of the day. As the gospel account progresses, the scene shifts to the after-life where the conditions of both characters were reversed. The rich man is in torment in hell while Lazarus is in Abraham’s bosom (a state of blessing).
In this particular situation we see the state of both men. Lazarus was a needy, destitute man. But the Lord gave him a name. Lazarus means, “The Lord is my Helper”. He had an identity. Naming a person is about a person’s life and future. Jesus was called Jesus because His future saved His people from their sins. Every name identifies us. The poor man had a name. The “certain” rich man, had wealth but he had no name. He had no identity. He was just another man even though he was endowed with riches. His riches could not even buy him an identity.
Our identity and true worth is not defined by our riches, but what we do with them as God would lead us to. Our response to what we have and what we do with them is what identifies us.
We all have been provided with so many blessings in life. We are not sensitive to them because we look at our blessings from our perspective. We take them for granted because we have been made to believe that blessings are purely material possessions that satisfy us and make us feel good. Blessings are not just meant to make us feel good. It might make us feel good, but there is a higher intention of God for blessings to make us understand what we are.
1 Corinthians 1:5-7 Good News Translation (GNT) says, “For in union with Christ you have become rich in all things, including all speech and all knowledge. The message about Christ has become so firmly established in you that you have not failed to receive a single blessing, as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.” We are rich in union with Christ, not with our accomplishments or achievements. Blessings are always from God’s point of view. They are for the purpose of God. They are for the use of God’s people to minister, to serve, and to help others. Blessings were not intended to be self-serving.
In Genesis 12:2 New Living Translation (NLT), God was talking to Abraham who was a very successful man and who left everything and obeyed God. God said to him, “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.” Blessings are for service and ministry.
Today, around this time, I could still remember Pastor Bobby Rebullida who called me to his office. I just graduated from college, passed the board exam, and my career path was already laid out. He sent me to San Pablo to be a pastor for one Sunday. That one Sunday became two Sundays until it went on and on. Thirty-six years later, after September 1983, I am still here serving. I thank God for this ministry and work. It was at that time that I received a car from the company. God asked me to use the car for my ministry. The car was not mine but God’s. I used the car in sacred sensitivity.
1 Corinthians 12:7 New Living Translation (NLT) says, “7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” Many people today are living in depression, emptiness, and worse, in denial because they have tried not to confront the issues. Because we have become so immersed in a world that has deadened our true sensitivities, we sense the wrong thing and we respond the wrong way and life becomes frustrating!
Many times, leprosy is being used in the Bible because it is a disease that makes a person numb and insensitive to point that it is already affecting the parts of the body; but the person can’t feel it. It is a spiritual lesson for us about sensitivity. We have issues in life but we live in denial rather than face the issue and come not only to sensitivity, but also to sacred sensitivity.
God wants us to have a life worth living for. It is a life that He has destined for each one of us to have from the beginning of creation. It is a life that He intends us to live. Before He even created us, we have received His blessings.
Ephesians 1:3-4 Contemporary English Version (CEV) says, “ Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for the spiritual blessings that Christ has brought us from heaven! 4 Before the world was created, God had Christ choose us to live with him and to be his holy and innocent and loving people." God has blessed us from the beginning. Before there was even a need or a problem, God already gave the blessing. Before there was a need, God already gave the provision. Before there was the sickness, God already gave the healing. I believe that when we pray, those who are sick are healed! It is not on the basis on what we see and feel, but on the basis of God’s promise.
To become truly sensitive to God’s plan and destiny begins with understanding two things: one, we must know our identity. Many times, we base our lives on what people think about us or what we think about ourselves. What really matters is what God has made us to be. What does God think of us? It doesn’t matter what we think or what people think of us. Our true identity was made and fashioned by God. God thinks special of us. God thinks of loving us. God thinks of us as not an ordinary person. We are special to him.
In Psalm 91, the Lord says, “Because he has loved Me, I will deliver him. Because he has called My name, I will set him high.” There are over 7,000 promises of God in the Bible about His thinking about us. Romans 11:36, “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever!” We pray this every Sunday to remind us that we are special.
Not only must we know our identity, but also our purpose. What does God wants us to do? Why are we alive today? We are not just to fill up space which animals and trees or plants God can use. We have a special place in God’s plan and no one can fulfill it.
Psalm 139:13-15 New International Version (NIV) says, “13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” We are beautiful because God created us! We need to have an expression in Christianity to say emphatically that we were fearfully and wonderfully made for a specific and unique purpose. Our life has meaning. Do not believe the lie that the devil throws at us that we are worthless.
The reason we become frustrated is that we base our happiness on the “blessings” that satisfy us. It really is not the blessings that satisfy us but the ability to use the blessings in service of others.
We are made for serving God through our service to others with the gifts He gave us. This opens the door for us to share the true blessing of life – Jesus Christ!