How do you see others? Do you see them the same as the culture does or the way that Jesus would? When we come into contact with other people it’s hard to see them as Jesus does. We are blinded by our own sin and prejudice. We often see them the way we have been conditioned to see them based on our sources of influence, however, Jesus was different and wasn’t dictated by the culture.
In John 4 Jesus providentially encountered a Samaritan woman at a well. He Himself who was a Jew came into contact with this woman, and did I also mention that she was a prostitute as well. According to the general consensus at the time He was supposed to see her as the scum of the earth. The fact that she was a Samaritan, a woman and a prostitute meant that a Jewish man would not even acknowledge her existence. Even her own people saw her as an outcast given that she was at the well by herself during the heat of the day instead of with a group of women in the morning or evening. However, not only did Jesus see her as a person, but actually engaged her in conversation as though she mattered and had value. This of course led to her life being transformed and her going out and reaching her village.
Jesus saw through the cultural lens and looked upon her through His own lens, one of compassion and love. The question is how do we see people and through what lens will we choose to view them. Will it be cultural or Christ-like and how does that affect modern day! I have broken down some possible scenarios.
1. The Homeless:
Cultural Lens: They just need to help themselves, get a job, and stop being a drain on society. It’s probably their fault that they are in this position anyway.
Christ-like Lens: They are created in the image of God and are somebody’s son or daughter. Regardless of how they got here they need help and I am in the position to help them and it’s only by the grace of God that I am not in this position.
2. Restaurant Server
Cultural Lens: They are here for the sole purpose to serve me and if they do a good job I will leave them a good tip.
Christ-like Lens: They are here to serve me, but I also see them as a genuine person who is probably either a college student or single mom so I will leave a good tip regardless, as a way to be a blessing to them.
3. Walmart Cashier
Cultural Lens: This line has been taking forever and he/she is being so slow. Just wait until I get up there, I am going to give them a piece of my mind for inconveniencing me.
Christ-like Lens: This line is taking a long-time, but maybe it’s their first day or maybe he/she is just having a rough day. Looks like others in line are being pretty impatient, what an opportunity I have to shine the light of Christ when I get up there.
4. Annoying Co-worker
Cultural Lens: If they talk about that one more time, I am going to scream. Why do I have to endure this hours upon hours everyday. I am going to avoid them as much as possible.
Christ-like Lens: God has placed them in my path for a reason and this is someone whom Jesus died for. If they are annoying to me they possibly are to others as well and they are probably used to being shunned. This is my opportunity to show them compassion.
5. Smart Aleck or Rude Acquaintance
Cultural Lens: Always rude and condescending. I have had enough and refuse to take it anymore.
Christ-like Lens: Jesus said to love even our enemies and demonstrated this throughout His life especially choosing to love me even though I was a lost sinner. The least I can do is return condescension with kindness. At some point they will wonder why and I get to give God all the glory.
Let’s choose to see people today through a Christ-like lens. I pray that He would shape not only our eyesight, but also our words and actions as we embrace people who need Jesus.