Friday, February 15, 2013

You Look Funny

I have lived in Bolivia for six years.  I am a caucasion that lives in a latino culture.  I really stand out.  I am middleaged, blondheaded gringo that is slightly taller than the average person of Incan descent. 

However I don't feel weird.  That is, until someone from the States comes to visit us.  As I walk around with them, I am amazed by how different they look.  They obviously do not belong.  I think of the old Sesame Street skit and song.  "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things don't belong."  My friends do not belong.  They are from another culture and ethnicity.  I am slightly embarrased as we walk around because everyone is looking at them.  They stick out.

Then I remember that I look like them.  I stand out.  I am the thing that doesn't belong.  I am the one that looks funny.  I just don't look at me; I look through me.  I don't see what I look like to other people.  All I see is how they look to me.  Because I live here, seeing Bolivians and Latinos everywhere is normal.  I see what I see, and I think therefore that they see what I see as well.  To me, everyone looks normal.  To them, I look funny. 

My point?  We all go through life seeing things from our perspective, viewpoint, understanding and culture.  That is normal and unavoidable.  The thing is that we also all go through life assuming two things.  We assume that everyone sees things the way that we see them.  We also evaluate others based on what/how we see them. 

The same thing happens to us Christians. We become products of our 'sub-culture'.  We begin to believe, think, and do what the others in our ‘group’ do.  Then we begin to judge others based on our perspective. Those who are not part of our group, whether it is about worship, type of preaching, or opinions about minor doctrines, are found weighed in the balance and found wanting.

May I, after 6 years of living on the mission field and 25 years of ministry make a suggestion?

We need to step back and look at things, not from our viewpoint, but from God's.  My viewpoint is skewed.  My understanding is limited.  My cultural is temporary.  God is perfect. His ways are eternal.  He knows. 

When we look at others through the eyes of God, we begin to look at them in love. It changes everything.

Whose eyes are you looking through?