First impressions do count. When we first meet someone, we make a myriad of decisions about them. Some of these will be accurate, some will be less accurate. How we see someone will determine how we treat them.
This initial picture will be probably decided on their demeanour, their clothes, their speech, their grooming, what they are doing and maybe even how they smell. We get a vibe off someone and decide if we going to be friends or not.
This is what normally goes through our minds, but once in a while meet someone and our intuition misfires, or even ‘right’-fires.
For instance, I met a guy a church group once. When we met I got it into me that he was a visiting pastor who would giving the evening’s talk. Visually he didn’t look like a pastor, but then again our guys only really break out the dog collars once a year or so. As it happened he was new member of the group. I’m not really too sure why I thought that this guy was a visiting pastor. The only thing I’ve got to go on, is that maybe for that initial split second I saw this gentleman through God’s eyes.
I wrote once before about the importance of seeing ourselves through God’s eyes. It’s also equally important when looking at others. For instance someone might look at me with their own eyes and see a tired looking guy, grumpy, with a habit of strong language and a fondness of enjoying a (sometimes generous) drop of whiskey in the evening. This could well influence how they treat me if we were only passing acquaintances.
If someone was to try to help me using their own limited understanding of me, they could be cheering me on in any one of a million directions. Well meaning and folks could be encouraging me that I’m not so grumpy after all. They might try and give rest for my soul somehow. They might even (God forbid), buy me some herbal tea to ‘enjoy’ before going to bed. All this, as wonderful and well meaning as it is, might not help me become the person that God created me to be.
Wouldn’t they treat me in a different way if they saw me through God’s eyes?
What if God looks at me and sees a musician? Someone who makes Him want to dance. Someone who is overcoming insecurities about how his voice sounds and is slowly memorising the chords, melodies and lyrics of songs written in a foreign language.
This is just an example, and only an example. I am painting myself in a poor light for illustration only, and I am very grateful to the close friends who are walking with me as I gain confidence as a musician.
But, the point is this. Depending on who’s eyes were are looking through when we meet someone, influences how we will relate to them. When we see people through our own eyes we only see them where they are now. When we see people through God’s eyes we can see where they should be. To recognise this difference is crucial, should we decide to ‘help’ them.
When we seen someone through God’s eyes, and have had even a glimpse of who He has created them to be, then we will be drawing them forward towards being the person He intended them since before they were born. By default this person will move from where they are but the direction will be the correct one. God knows the plans he has for us.
At the moment our congregation is going through a growth period and Sunday by Sunday we are seeing new faces cropping up.
So what about the guy who greeted me last week? Only his second time visiting us. Maybe not too sure about this Jesus thing. Shaved head, a little gaunt. What if .. what if he is a prayer warrior? What if one day his simplest prayers will send shock waves through the spiritual realms. How are we going to treat him? As an outsider who needs to ‘prove’ himself before we let him into our holy huddle, or a new member of Christ’s body who needs a lift to boot camp?
What about the deacons joining the church? The children’s workers? Those who can help with the technical side of things? The artists? The cooks?
Do we see them? Or do we see people who make us feel uncomfortable and insecure in a place which used be our safe haven?
These new faces. We see them. But through who’s eyes are we looking at them?