Can you see it? Can you see it in the faces of the broken, destitute, the scarred, the one’s with needles dangling and short skirts walking on street corners? Can you see the glory? The Imago Dei?
Can you hear it in the voice of the one no one else wants to listen to? In the voice of the annoying, complaining, loud-mouth, obnoxious one? The dear one, beloved of God, who just really, desperately needs their soul’s greatest need filled: to be loved!
Can you touch it? Can you touch the diseased? Can you touch the soul? Can you touch that dear, broken soul and see the Image of the Most High plastered thick on their face? Can you see the pain in their eyes and hear beyond their words and into their heart?
So often we only see the ways that others annoy us, the ways that we’ve felt wronged. It’s all so uncomfortable loving folks who can’t really give a return, who cost a lot… a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lowering of ourselves. Sometimes it costs us our reputation. But does it really?
When Jesus put on flesh, He obviously didn’t chose the politically correct and dignified Pharisees? He touched lepers and hugged the impoverished and the downcast, the soul-poor and offensive.
It’s my experience that when folks offend, it’s often because no one has filled their cup, so they are dry. They have need so they can’t meet others’ needs. And it’s also my experience when I have the courage, vulnerability and awareness to intentionally show care, express love and overlook offenses, that often those very needy souls can become life-givers.
Sometimes all it takes it remembering that the only thing separating me from any sort of ugliness is that magnificent Grace. I could so easily be that “worthless” one. So, the real question needs asked: Can you see your own reflection in their faces? Can you see the flesh we all share? Can you see yourself in their eyes, since the eyes are, after all, the windows to the soul?
I once asked God to help me not hate a specific type of person that I realized I despised. In an answer to my prayer, He allowed me to experience a mild version of the torment they daily experience. It changed my perspective forever and ever, perhaps more than any other experience I’ve ever had. It robbed me of my self-righteousness and showed me my own humanity in their’s. And it taught me about grace… the Grace that keeps my feet from stumbling in every way, shape and form known to man. So, when folks annoy, offend, bother, draw-out-the-worst-in me, I am often reminded that that is my reflection I see in their eyes, in their humanity… and if I don’t struggle in all the same ways, it’s only because God has had grace on that portion of my life and heart. (And sometimes it’s actually the log in my eye that I assume belongs to them.)
This Grace, if we can move beyond receivers and into givers of that Grace, it will unite us. We can then love, without the binding cords of self-righteousness, the broken Image-bearers. Because there really is no difference between them and us.