Feb8WedFebruary 8, 2017
This week, I attended a ‘clergy’ workshop in Peoria on the subject of ‘Understanding the Pillars of Islam’ in comparison with Christianity and Judaism. At the beginning of event, each of the attendees introduced themselves by name, church and city. Most were from the Lutheran tradition. However, there were other men and women from Methodist, Church of Christ, and Unitarian backgrounds. I actually had the honor of sitting next to a Jewish rabbi! Clearly, I was surrounded by a few people with whom I would profoundly disagree.
During the ‘question and answer’ portion of the workshop, I found myself being easily tempted with an arrogant and judgmental spirit – thinking, “How foolish this person is for being so spiritual deceived.” Perhaps you don’t have these kind of thoughts, but in such diverse settings, I struggle to look beyond a person’s appearance or the perceived ideology. My attitude, of course, stems from pride. I am aware that if there is any truth in me, it’s only by the grace of God and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Likewise, there really is no true wisdom unless it is provided by God, through faith in Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 1:30). Yet it is so easy for me to become self-righteous in such settings.
The Lord brought this to mind because of our reading in 1 Samuel 16 this week. In this portion of Scripture, the prophet Samuel was asked by God to secretly anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the new king over Israel. As Samuel was introduced to Jesse’ eldest sons, the Lord reminded him, “The Lord sees not as man sees. Man look son the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Without spiritual insight, Samuel would have anointed the wrong son to be king. Why? Because he could only see what his own mind could perceive from external clues. However, the Lord knows the condition of each person’s heart and sees them as they truly are.
Nearly every day, you and I likely encounter people who are different than us – either religiously, theologically, economically, racially or physically. How easy it is to quickly compare ourselves to what we perceive about them. However, as we study the subject of prayer, I would encourage you to ask the Lord to give you eyes to see people as He sees them. I prayed that kind of prayer silently during the workshop and began to realize that the room contained only three kinds of people: those who love Jesus, those who are confused about Jesus, and those who have rejected Jesus. This perspective changed my heart. These were people for whom God sent His son! Therefore, it is my obligation to respect and gently demonstrate the good news of Jesus Christ.
Clearly we live in confused and polarizing world, but let's not let our own pride make matters worse. Let us seek the Lord in order to help us look beyond the outward appearances and into the deeper issues of the heart. What might God lead us into if we ask Him to help us see people as He sees them?