God’s Eye and Man’s Eye (Matt 13:24-30, 36-43)
1. There is a church called The Shinjuku Community Church. It belongs to the United Church of Christ in Japan. Its missionary activity initiated by Pastor Nakamura began ten years ago. It rents a room in a hotel, to hold its worship service. It intends to become an oasis in Shinjuku to give a cup of water to people with worry in their hearts. Its mission statement is “The Shinjuku Community Church is open as a house of prayer for people: female and male, people with various sexual inclinations, children and aged people, teens, adults, and people with or without family. We live for God’s good news through worship, prayer, service, education, and fellowship with those people. We seek all people; will live free from all oppressions, and want them to experience God’s love, integrity, and justice. We seek people created by God; will live in harmony with Him, and we seek ourselves to participate in His work with courage in order to change the world.” This church, especially Pastor Nakamura, emphasizes missionary and counselling activities for people suffering from HIV/AIDS.
2. It seems to me that prejudice and discrimination against sexual minorities and people suffering from HIV/AIDS have lessened a little bit as compared with before. But as they are minorities, they are not likely to be understood in society, and may be excluded even from Christian churches. Some young people in the United Church of Christ in Japan managed to screen a Korean picture titled “Out.” It is a documentary movie showing Korean homosexual teens. According to it, even mission schools try to find out those homosexual teens, and to punish them.
3. Discrimination takes place, when people regard themselves as righteous, and despise people with different views from theirs. The same is true concerning Japanese hate speech made against foreign residents in Japan, and concerning bashing people receiving welfare. Many Pharisees and teachers of the law, who were in sharp conflict with Jesus, thought themselves righteous and orthodox, and condemned people who acted differently from them. They firmly believed that they were faultless. So they took a view that people with different ideas were sinful, and despised them. C. S Lewis called pride “the great sin” in his book titled “Mere Christianity.” I learnt it from the report of the English Book Reading Club meeting held in July. Jesus always fought against the great sin, and told that God’s salvation covered all people. And he was a friend for people called “sinners.” He said God’s eye was watching them. They were physically and mentally handicapped; poor people; foreigners; tax collectors serving foreign rulers; people who had difficulty observing laws; people who were despised as inferior, troublesome, and displeasing by other people. Jesus told that God accepted them only as valuable. And he told all of them to experience God’s love emancipating them from all oppressions, and live in God’s love.
4. The Pharisees and teachers of the law who thought themselves only righteous and despised others are reflecting our attitude. We always try to justify ourselves. We are likely to think of ourselves as wheat which is produced from good seeds, and condemn the other seeds. But Jesus fights against the great sin in us. The fight is against human beings’ judgment.
5. We soon try to get rid of the weeds. We are ready to eliminate what we think is impure. But God directs His eye to the weeds that are sowed maliciously. God does not think narrow judgment is good. He tells us to wait for God’s eye with generosity and patience. He has generosity toward people who sow the weeds. He waits for their repentance and their seeking for forgiveness, though the weeds are as they are.
6. It is also God’s love for people who think themselves good wheat from good seeds. God takes care of them, when they face the danger of the weeds from outside at the harvest. We are likely to judge others by man’s eye, but God tries to find out our value. As Isaiah tells us, “You are precious and honored in my sight.” (Isaiah 43:4)
(This is the English translation of Rev Nobuo Yasui’s sermon which is to be preached at Hongo Church on July 20, 2014)
(Translated by Toshiyuki Masujima)