This post is one in a series of reflections for Lent. I invite you to go back and read the previous reflections.
We should never forget where we came from. We can get so wrapped up in being Christian and doing church, that we can completely miss the entire message. If we have learned nothing else from the Gospel of Mark, then we have learned that Jesus came for the despised. He has been rejected by the religious types. He has been cast aside by the wealthy and wise. He is leading a movement that will fundamentally change the world, that consist of poor and uneducated masses. Those are the exact people he has been trying to reach. He says that the well do not need a doctor. The religious leaders are so convinced of their own piety that they just have no use for Jesus. The poor and uneducated see their own weakness. The sinners that he has surrounded himself with are intimately aware of their own failure. We have to be careful not to do the same thing as the religious leaders.
This means that the doors of the church have to remain open for the despised. People seeking after God may not look like we would expect them to look. Their appearance may upset our sensibilities. We should never shun or look down on those that may n0t have come as far as we have on this journey. God has accepted them exactly where they are, and we should too. We should not be shocked to see single mothers or even homosexuals in our churches. If they are welcome no where else then they should be welcome in our church. God has excepted us exactly the way we are, but he will not settle to leave us where we are. I am not trying to say something shocking here. We will never be able to preach a person out of their sinful ways. It is just not going to happen, and it is not our job. It is the Spirit of God. God can work outside our church walls, but we have to humbly accept people where they are. God will take care of the rest. I am not proposing the sanctioning of gay marriage. We must still uphold our own moral convictions. We must stand for truth, but we have to do it with love. Maybe our sin is not, in our own eyes, as bad as others. It does not matter. Sin is sin. We have all been completely alienated from our Creator. Jesus is the only means that will bring the reconciliation and healing into broken lives. There is a hope for all people. No matter how offensive we may find their sin, God still has the power to save. We have to follow the example of Jesus, and love people where they are. If God wills, he will draw them to himself.
I see the same kind of problem occurring in this passage. Bartimaeus is just the type of person Jesus has come to reach. As he calls out for Jesus, the crowds attempt to silence him. I am sure they believe that Jesus just doesn't have the time for someone like him. Do we ever act the same way? The beauty of the story is that Jesus stops everything. He stops and asks the man," what would you like me to do for you?" The man simply wanted to see. Jesus heals him and he is instantly able to see. He then begins to follow Jesus. That person next to you, may have a simple request for Jesus. I do not want to stand like the crowds and tell him to pipe down. It may be that they want healing for the sins of their past. Jesus has the only answer for that. Love them and pray for them. God can take care of all the rest.