Second Kings 6 tells the story of King Aram’s attempts to silence the prophet Elisha. The king was understandably peeved by Elisha’s ability to predict where and when Aram’s army would attack Israel’s forces, thus eliminating Aram’s element of surprise and giving Israel a decided strategic advantage.
One night the king of Aram sent his army to surround the city of Dothan, where Elisha lived. The next morning, when Elisha and his servant walked out of their house, they saw the assembled forces of Aram. The servant panicked because he could see nothing else.
Elisha stayed calm and asked the Lord to open his servant’s eyes. The servant was equally stunned and reassured by what he saw. An army of angels, far more vast and imposing than Aram’s forces, stood ready for battle. Though he hadn’t realized it before, the servant had nothing to fear.
Elisha’s servant was unable to recognize God’s protection, even though it surrounded him. In a similar vein, there are people in your orbit who are unable to recognize God’s love, even though it surrounds them.
The first step is to understand what blinds them. Many hurting people blame God for the pain and disappointment in their lives. They hear Christians talk about God’s power and wonder why He let one of their loved ones die. Worse yet, they see and hear what God has done in other people’s lives and wonder why He hasn’t done the same for them.
Their circumstances blind them to God’s love. They can’t see the handiwork described in Romans 8:28, how “all things work together for good to those who love God.” They need someone to help them see.
But not just anyone.
Because, in many cases, what blinds people to God’s love are the actions and attitudes of those who claim to follow the Lord. Some people might have felt unwelcome at church. Others may have experienced bullying at the hands of Christian peers. Still others may have learned all too well of the feet of clay of respected spiritual leaders.
Few things blur a person’s spiritual outlook like hypocrisy. Once bitten, twice shy, as the saying goes. Once people have seen hypocrisy in action, they become suspicious of—and sometimes antagonistic toward—anyone who speaks to them about God’s love.
If people sense that…
they will respond … eventually.
Building that kind of trust requires time, consistency and transparency. God’s love shines through the one who makes time for her neighbor, It shines through the one who stands next to a grieving husband or father, not just for the duration of the funeral, but for months and years afterward.
People who are unfamiliar with God’s love may not recognize it at first. But they will recognize someone who genuinely cares for them and wants to help. That’s the work of Christ’s body in the world.