Have you ever run into someone you used to know and they were so radically different (in a good way) that you had a hard time comprehending what happened to them? Have you ever looked in the mirror and said to yourself, “I hardly recongize you”? Have you ever taken up someone else’s offense with another person and determined that that person was not someone worth knowing because of what you’d heard about them. As a Christ-follower, if you find yourself saying yes to one or more of these scenarios, can I ask you to join with me in praying this prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see people presently, as you do. Help me not to view others through old lenses. Liberate me from my old lenses so that I may love deeply and be a conduit of grace to all who need it, including myself.
People change. Can we create space for that in our hearts? I’ve met far too many people lately who have either been hurt by someone and they are unwilling to accept the fact that perhaps that person has changed and perhaps didn’t mean to hurt them or they are unwilling to admit they had any part in the breakdown of the relationship. The hurt person wants to hold onto a view that they are the “victim” and the person who hurt them is a “villain” – and their stories reflect that belief. And many times, their stories are inviting us to take up their hurt or experience as our own. But, if we understand scripture correctly, isn’t it true that we are all prone to sin and hurting one another? That we all make mistakes. That we are to forigive as we’ve been forgiven? Isn’t it equally as true that as we encounter Christ, change is possible? For ourselves. For others. (Disclaimer: I know there are times where people are victimized and there is need to be recognized as such. I’m not speaking to those types of situations today.)
And another thing. As we grow up in Christ, shouldn’t we own our stuff? Own the “stories we tell ourselves.” Own our part in the hurt or breakdown of a relationship? It’s exhausting to continually point the finger at others, isn’t it? What’s worse, it’s difficult to listen to someone whose stories paint others terribly and themselves as a saint! And didn’t Jesus say:
“Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5, NLT)
Or perhaps it’s easier to point fingers because allowing God to transform us is messy and painful and not without its valley’s. It requires sacrifice and a willingness to go there. Facing our messiness requires us to be vulnerable before a loving God who journey’s with us, revealing to us what we need to know and healing us so that we are set free. And it forces us to be vulnerable before others. But when we are set free by God’s grace, shouldn’t we see through new eyes?
I don’t know about you, but I want to see people as Christ sees them. I don’t want to take up other’s offenses, and I certainly don’t want to be person who invites you to take up mine! I want to be someone who is courageously dealing with my stuff and who is not destructive to others or future relationships. I long to be a vessel of truth and grace. A person who is quick to listen and empathize, slow to speak and wise when I do, and who is living and seeing others presently.
Let’s look for the transformational work of Christ in ourselves and others, because when we encounter Christ, we are changed. Then, let’s be willing to celebrate the transformational work of Christ in all our lives.
Note: There are times in our life when we need the help of others to deal with our stuff. Never be afraid to seek out the help of a gifted councilor – we’re not meant to do life alone.
The Reverend Carmen Kampman is a woman on the road of leadership. Ordained with the PAOC, she is a steward of God’s call to women in ministry, and the founder of LEAD Women, a ministry equipping Christian women for leadership. She is also VP of Advancement at Horizon College & Seminary, and a graduate student in the Masters of Leadership program at Briercrest Seminary.