It’s a simple question that makes all the difference in the world. What do you see when you see another person?
More specifically, my fellow Christians, let me put it this way. As a follower of Jesus Christ, what do you see when you see another person? How do you regard the person who, by chance or choice, ventures into your personal zone? And what will you do with that person? You know the one I mean—that person there. Do you see?
The neighbor who happens to be taking a walk at the same time you are. What will you do with her? The person taking your order at lunch today. What will you do with him? The one in the “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt. The one in business attire stepping out of the Lexus LS in the parking space next to you. The man and woman, hand in hand, two children in tow. The two women, hand in hand, two children in tow. The one in the “Make America Great Again” hat. The one in the hijab. The one in the blue Oxford button-down and khakis (Wait, that’s me!). The one in filthy clothing, smelling of the street, trying to make eye contact with you. The one at the desk beside you. What have you to do with that person?
That person—the one right there—is not an issue or a controversy, not a statistic or a threat. That person just happens to be the person who has wandered into your personal zone. So, what will you do with that person? I don’t have to tell you. You know. You’re a follower of Jesus.
These are trying times (as though any time hasn’t been). Gather a cross-section of United Methodists and talk about sexuality and the future of our denomination. Bring pretty much any mixed group together and discuss immigration, Dreamers, and the wall. Gather evangelical Christians and ask them what they think of President Trump. Talk about political parties and movements within the parties; talk about Islam; talk about gender; talk about race. Before long, blood pressures rise and knuckles blanch, and we find our way to our opposing camps.
I know I’m being simplistic; I admit it. But when we find ourselves at loggerheads, perhaps it would do us all good to get personal.
In other words: See that person there in front of you? When you look into her eyes, what do you see? What does God see? What does God think of that guy right there? (cf. John 3:16.) Dealing with issues can be easy, once you’ve arrived at your position. Dealing with the person standing in front of you, on the other hand, takes some thought and care and at least a dollop of empathy. Come to think of it, that’s pretty simple, too.
Let’s start there. I can’t promise it won’t make the issues a little more complicated, but I know absolutely that your day—and the day of the people you encounter—will be the better for it.
Author: Jenn Harris
“I am dedicated to helping our church communicate the love of Jesus Christ, and passionate about helping people connect with others and our amazing God.”