Just like the ubiquitous cameras, savor God’s loving gaze

How do you feel like there are “eyes” (cameras) watching almost every move you make?

It was the whole basis of the hit show “Person Of Interest”. The story of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is about the government constantly watching, listening and snooping into everyone’s private actions in hopes of catching a few offenders.

For some, it brings comfort; for others concern.

Many churches have security cameras everywhere, primarily to protect attendees. Of course, problems that arise for those attending services are about 500 times more likely than an active shooter breaching sacred ground.

I’ve joked with a few people I know very well when they arrive late for worship. I’m going to brush them aside and say slyly, “I’ll get your cash offering, but let’s get into this camera’s blind spot here.”

Judging by the reactions, I conclude that pastors shouldn’t joke about collections…or cameras. Too sacred and too sensitive.

In Linndale, a community near Cleveland, ubiquitous traffic cameras and the collections they garner bring in nearly 80% of the community’s revenue. Legislation has been introduced at the Ohio House to outlaw this type of speed trap…because they don’t want the eyes of the law “running back and forth across the land…”

You might recognize this as a paraphrase of I Chronicles 16:9. My family created their own paraphrase to describe my mother’s eyes, which could see in all directions. We used to tease her about it until my 3 year old son fell into a septic tank. It was only because of my mother’s wandering eyes that he was seen falling – and then saved. We never teased her about it again.

So, does it comfort you or worry you that God’s eyes are always upon you?

Jesus’ eyes were especially powerful as he gazed at a number of people with looks of love. He looked at Peter with love after Peter had denied him three times (Luke 22:54-62). That look destroyed Peter. But later Peter became one of the most powerful preachers the world has ever known. Jesus looked and loved the wealthy young ruler.

This man is gone, but Jesus still loved him (Mark 10:20-21). Jesus looked at those putting money into the Temple treasury, but one stood out – the poor widow who put in all she had. Jesus looked at her and made her feel valued even though she didn’t think she gave much or was much (Luke 21:1-4). Jesus looked at those who were listening to his teaching. Then he made it clear that those who do the will of God are his true family (Mark 3:33-34).

Jesus is still watching you. He looked at Zacchaeus, the evading tax collector, then went home. That stay and that day completely changed Zacchaeus’s life for good (Luke 19:1-10).

“What did the master say to you that night at dinner that changed your life so much?” asked Zacchaeus’ visitor. He replied, “I simply looked deep into the eyes of the Master (Jesus) and saw there reflected, as in a mirror, the man I could become.”

Jesus’ looks of love can change us. He sees you, not just as you are, but as you can be.

Rick Sams is Pastor Emeritus of Alliance Friends Church.

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