Chapter 4: Learning to See
Let’s start at the root. When we see improperly, it’s because we have a broken image of other people. The seed for that broken image is often planted by our parents or family and community relations early in our youth. When our parents, family members, teachers, coaches, mentors, friends, and even church folk have distorted views of others, those views filter into their conversations and actions. It changes the way that we all see others and even the way that we view ourselves, for “the ways we have been seen teach us how to see…Misperception starts with our self-reflection (pg. 70-71).”
There is a common understanding among Bible teachers that the lies of this world need to be replaced with the truth of scripture. This basic principle is so important because lies don’t allow us to see God fully for who He is; lies don’t allow us to accept ourselves fully for how God created us, and lies don’t allow us to love others as God intended. When we take the lies that we believe and transfer them onto other people, we have now tainted the image of that person and have broken fellowship with them. This is why statements like:
You are just like your father (assuming the father was a “bad” man).
You are never going to be anything in life.
Everyone in your family was an alcoholic, and you are following the same path
are so very damaging and painful. We all have to guard ourselves from seeing the world through our own wounds. God has all power to fix our broken places so that as hurt people we don’t continue to hurt other people. God can change the way that we see.
“Sight is not just what we see but how we see—and that is the function of values, experiences, relationships, associations, beliefs, culture, race, gender and age (pg. 74).”
The broader our experiences, the more expanded our worldview and the more expanded our view of others. That’s why it is not good to only associate with people who think like us, believe what we do, vote how we vote, and share the same race and ethnicity or social/economic class values. We learned in the last chapter discussion that all of those dynamics shape the way that we see.
We move seamlessly from sight to perception, from the information available [which may be quite limited] to the assignment of value and meaning to what we see. We don’t see ourselves perceiving. We just see. This means we can be blind about our seeing. Just as sight is not neutral, it is not comprehensive. That is physical sight goes only so far; it does not include what is invisible…Out of sight, out of mind, out of heart—indeed (pg. 75).
I don’t want to put people out of my heart. I’m finding if I do nothing, if I pass my days without intentionally choosing what I see, people (at least some groups of people) will be placed out of my heart indeed. That’s why we must choose what we put before our eyes, and determine whether or not we are viewing others as the Lord does. 1 Sam 16:7 reminds us that humans look on the outward appearance but God looks to the heart of people. Do we look intently enough to see beyond the outward appearance and into the heart?
A few short verses from Matt. 9:35-38 reveals Jesus’ heart towards people:
1. Jesus was focused on teaching and preaching the good news of the kingdom of God, and healing those who were sick and diseased.
2. He had compassion on the crowds because they were harassed and helpless, and without direction.
3. He informed this disciples of the importance of workers who cared about ministering to the heart of the people who were spiritually and physically needy.
How does this chapter and this passage help us better understand our need to see and respond in compassion to those who are lost and helpless?
Blessings, © Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2013
Catch Up on the Discussion:
Chapter 3: Injustice and the Problem of Misperceiving
Chapter 2: WE See No Evil
Chapter 1: Stop Rubbernecking, It’s Dangerous
Introduction: Dangerous Act and a Heart Like the Grinch