- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2003

The following are excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Frank M. Reid III at Bethel AME Church in Baltimore:
Until a few years ago, I was proud to be the only member of the family who never wore glasses. One day I was working out, and my martial-arts instructor said, "You better get your eyes checked. You're farsighted."
Now, if I don't have my reading glasses on when I make a phone call, I might dial the wrong number. Being able to see clearly is very important. The ability to see spiritually is just as essential. The reason so many of us are struggling in life is that we are blind to the things of God's kingdom.
This is why the dialogue between Nichodemus and Jesus is so important [John 3:1-7]. Nichodemus was a pharisee, a gatekeeper of traditional Judaism, and he came to Jesus by night. Nighttime was teaching time, according to the religious tradition, so it may have been that Nichodemus was not embarrassed to be seen with Jesus.
In the 21st century, many of us are imprisoned in religious traditions of the past. We do things because they have been passed on to us by another generation. But we don't know why we do it, or whether God has prescribed it. So we shout, we run, we wave our hands, and we say that's praise and worship. But if we don't do it out of obedience to the spirit and word of God, then we are blind to the true meaning of praise.
Listen to Nichodemus. He says, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher come from God." Here is a man who knows the Scriptures about the coming of the Messiah, yet he can't see who Jesus really is. Nichodemus was a master exegete of Scripture, but he is blind to the Messiah in front of him.
Now, that is not really much different than most folk in church. We come to worship, not recognizing that the Holy Spirit is here before we arrive. We only have to be open to that fact. And then when you go back home, you should bring a spirit of discernment, so that no matter what happens in your week, you can see how that happened. Say, "I want to see. I want to see."
If people saw the power of God in their lives, a revival would break out in their neighborhoods. But you are complaining just like everybody else. Nothing positive to say about anybody, because you are caught up in a spiritual blindness. … Jesus said to Nichodemus, "Unless a man or woman be born again, they cannot see the kingdom of God." Just because you were born again 10 years ago, that doesn't mean you can see what God is doing in the kingdom now. I have to go to the eye doctor every year so she can make sure my prescription last year is effective this year. God wants you to see what's happening now in your life.
You must open your eyes to see the kingdom of God. That is how you can know the will of God in Christ Jesus. That doesn't mean everything in your life is good, but everything is working to the good. But if you can't see it, you can't believe it. And if you don't believe it, you'll never walk in it. And if you never walk in it, you'll never experience it. So God says, "I've got to open up their eyes. They will see that every problem is an opportunity."
The Scripture tells us "the world" represents another kingdom. God had made Adam and Eve blind to the kingdom of sin. But the enemy came to them and said, "I want to open your eyes so you become blind to the things of God." We lost our dominion and our eyes lusted for the things of Satan. So now, do you understand the power of television over an entire generation of young people who watch MTV and BET? And you become what you see.
We become what we see. The slaves were free because they did not see themselves as slaves. If you can see God clearly, you can be a great generation. … Nichodemus saw himself as a religious person, but he did not see himself as a kingdom person.
Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Jeffrey B. MacKnight at St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church in Bethesda

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