What do you think when you see this picture?
And this picture?
Is there part of you that wants to make assumptions about how these people ended up in their situation? Do you find yourself stereotyping their personality? It’s okay to admit these thoughts are fluttering through your mind. It happened to me the first time I met John (name changed). He had tattoos on every inch of his body; I knew he had just gotten out of jail. I was scared of him just a bit, and I doubted that God had really changed his heart. It’s not something that’s easy to admit, but ignoring these judgmental thoughts only allows them to persist.
God has something different in mind when he sees people. He sees their potential with him. He sees a beautiful creation. God was creating the earth and after everything he made he declared it good. After he created humans, he declared them very good. It wasn’t just that moment, though. God further declared that ALL people are worthy when he allowed ALL people to have a relationship with Him. To God, we are all equal and worthy and full of dignity.
When God sends Samuel to anoint the next king, Samuel sees Jesse’s sons and thinks “surely it’s one of these guys.”
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Samuel only saw the outside of the sons. He wasn’t looking at the heart. He didn’t consider David because David was the youngest. God saw the dignity and worth of David and wanted him as the new king.
Today, something has to give in the way that we as humans interact with one another. We can’t keep making assumptions about one another. Even more so, we can’t speak those assumptions out loud. Also, we can’t keep putting one another down, even jokingly. We need to think individually about how we speak and act toward one another. Look at people with God’s eyes. Speak to people with God’s words.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
This needs to start first within the church. How do you speak to those that you love? How do you treat your acquaintances? Treat both as if they are worth your time. Finally, think about how you treat visitors that are different than you. Show them the love of Jesus. We need to model for the rest of the world how Christ treated people. Jesus hung out with tax collectors, Samaritans, and even people whom he knew would betray him.
Even though John only passed through my life for a brief moment, I learned something from him. God changed his heart. I could tell in the way he was trying so hard to live differently, in the questions he asked, and in the way he treated the people in the church. He showed me that outside appearances don’t tell everything about a person.
Show everyone the love of Jesus, regardless of your initial reaction.