“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” (Matthew 7:1-2)
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” That’s the advice Atticus Finch gives Scout in Harper Lee’s classic, To Kill A Mockingbird. Scout has had a difficult day at school and she comes home determined to never go back again because of a run in she had with a teacher. Atticus is trying to get Scout to understand that the only way you will ever really understand people is if you try to understand things from the other’s perspective. It’s helpful, as best you can, to try to put yourself in their place, and see the world as they see the world. It gives you empathy for another, and helps you to understand them better.
At the heart of the call to discipleship is a desire to see the world from a different perspective. Disciples are to see the world not as it is, but as it could be. As disciples, we are called to try to envision a new world. We are called to live in this new reality; to live in the world as if the new creation has broken into the present in order to change the future. But in order to do this we have to look with different eyes. We’ve got to learn to see the world differently.
Discipleship is about being conformed into the image of Christ. Spiritual formation is about enabling our hearts and minds to be molded into Christ-likeness so that we have the same mind that is in Christ Jesus. As we do this we become more like God, seeing the world as God sees the world.
But how does God see the world? When God looks at the world, the beautiful creation that God brought into being, how does God see the world?
I think God sees people. Individual people. Not labels such as race, ethnicity, nationality, or religion. God sees people. Individuals made in the image of God who are God’s very own children whether they recognize that they are God’s children or not. God sees the very ones that God has made, the ones God formed out of the dust of the ground, and breathed life into. God sees people and God loves them; every last one of them. From the ones who are actively following God to the ones who are jihadists and actively trying to destroy others in the name of their god. God loves them all. That doesn’t mean God is happy with their actions. God is not happy with the actions of the terrorist just as God is not happy with my actions when I am selfish and unkind. But God loves all of them, and God desires relationship with all of them.
Now I wonder, what would change in our behavior if we could see the world the way God sees the world? What would happen if instead of seeing groups of people, or even individuals, who have been mean and destructive, we saw individuals who are made in God’s image and worthy of love? What would happen if we loved everyone and tried to view everyone through the lens of love? How would it affect relationships with our coworkers, our neighbors, those on social media with opposing views, or even our enemies? If we could see them as God sees them would it be easier to love them instead of judging them?
If we could see the world as God sees the world than we wouldn’t assume that every homeless person is a drug addict, every transgender has mental problems, or every Muslim is a terrorist. Instead we would see Tim begging for money and we would buy him a cup of coffee because he really just wants a cup of coffee today. Instead we would see Jarlene, and we would see that he loves God, but for various reasons he’s really confused right now about his identity. So we would remain friends and love him as one made in the image of God. Instead of seeing Raul and being afraid that he might try to harm me I would realize that while we don’t agree on everything religiously, we both long to see the violence end and we would love the world together in an effort to make the violence stop.
If I’m honest, I want God to view me not through my worst moments, but in my best. If I want God to judge me that way, maybe I should try to see others the same way and offer the same love. This doesn’t mean that judgment is never needed, because sometimes we need to judge. It just means that maybe our first response, instead of judgement, should be love.
I think that’s how God views the world, so maybe I should too.