Part I: Discovering Where We Live
Chapter 2: Paying Attention to Paying Attention
“We is a set of invisible goggles we never take off, not least because we have no sense we even have them on. We look out on the world with the lenses of our instincts and social grooming. We think we see the way others do, or even more frequently perhaps the reverse: that others see the way we do. In fact, the process is more variable and subtle than that, because the distortions of our lenses are not readily apparent, certainly not to us. We may see similarly those who share our life lenses, which means we may not see the world that many others see (pg 48).”
In the previous chapter, we learned that each of us has heart issues and those heart issues allow us to see incorrectly, name inappropriately, and perceive differently. These sins of the heart is what allows and perpetuates broken and unjust systemic structures. To change our hearts and broken systems that only work in our favor, we must change the way that we see.
We must SEE, and not avoid, the problems that concern us and them. This is why I encouraged everyone to see the movie Fruitvale Station and the recent box office hit, The Butler. Removing our invisible goggles allows us to open our eyes to others who live and see differently in the world. For example, there has been a lot of debate over the past few weeks about whether or not the “Stop and Frisk” law is just. I encourage you to seek out both sides of the argument from various media sources making note of the conversations concerning racial profiling before and after this week’s ruling which declared the “stop and frisk” tactics of the New York Police Department unconstitutional.
When it comes to issues of race, ethnicity, money, politics, and privilege, we tend to shy away from important conversations. As Christians, God has not called us to sit in the dark in fear. Rather, he has called us to shine His light in dark places and to do that, our eyes must be open to these realities. We must wrestle with and weigh these conversations on different levels and consider the consequence of our misunderstanding, silence, and inaction.
Living as followers of Christ means living as people who worship, call others friends, love our enemies, and sacrificially give our lives for the sake of others, particularly widows, orphans, aliens (ex. modern-day immigrants), the sick, poor, oppressed and suffering. This is the life Jesus modeled for us.
“The God revealed in Jesus Christ takes the inward and the outward seriously. To be conformed to the likeness of Jesus requires change in both [inward and outward] directions. This leads me to affirm that these two are inseparably intertwined both in their current condition and in the process of their transformation:
- To act justly in public is to share and participate in the heart of God (Is. 58; Lk 10:25-37).
- To share in God’s just and merciful heart means acting that out in public (Mt 5-8, Lk 4:14-41) (pg 54).”
Mending our divided hearts means that we see all people as image bearers of God (Gen. 1:27, 5:1) and respond to them as people who are valued in His sight (Gen. 9:5-6). It means that we lessen the gap between “we” and “they” and “us” and “them.” Our hearts must reflect the very heart of God.
“The gospel of the kingdom is what comes from the heart of God. That is what our Lord longs to have come from our hearts as well. A lifestyle of worship grounded in the One who is love and justice is our only hope for truly seeing, naming and acting justly in the world (pg 55).”
Reflection: “Do you invest energy daily in avoiding problems or pain—in your life and in the lives of those you love? In the lives of those you work with? What does this lead you to see in your heart? Who is someone you know who does a good job of stepping toward the needs of others? Why do you think so (pg. 53)?”
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2013
Catch Up on the Discussion:
Chapter 1: Stop Rubbernecking, It’s Dangerous
Introduction: Dangerous Act and a Heart Like the Grinch