Sitting in my office I am often astounded by the number of people that come in to share their concerns about expressing their faith publicly. Many are either hesitant to evangelize or intimidated to witness based on how others will perceive them. Our society values perception highly, we are judged on others perceptions, I know and understand this all too well as an African American Male in my 30's. However when it comes to my faith I can't afford to worry about perceptions, instead my focus is on reception into the Kingdom of God and the body of Christ.
The scripture for today paints a more vivid description, lets look:
Matthew 15:21-28 (NRSV)
Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly.
The Canaanite mother in Matthew was desperate, she needed Jesus to heal her child. Jesus initial response to her somewhat rude and offensive, but she did not give up- despite Jesus mood! He first ignored and then Jesus pushed her to the side reminding her that she was not a child of Israel, God's chosen ones. This mother was not going to take no for an answer, she knew that Jesus had the power and she didn't care how the disciples or anyone else perceived her, she was a desperate mother. She persisted until Jesus received her prayer, her need, her situation, and her child was healed. For this mother she couldn't care less about the perception of others, she needed the reception of Christ mercy, love and healing ability.
We can see that this woman's faith was great, but that's not my point. We understand that God does not always heal when we pray for healing, but that's not my point. My point is that as members of the inclusive church we should never hesitate to go to God boldly with our needs. We should always have a radical praise on our lips and a testimony in our hearts, thankful that we serve a GOD Who Listens Always. Friends be satisfied that reception by God is what matters most, others will always say and do what they will. Remember only you can establish or sever your relationship with God all others are bystanders! Choose this day to go all out in-order to be received!
Loving God, help us to not focus or worry about how others perceive us but on our relationship with you and how your receive us. In Jesus name we pray Amen!