“God transcendently sees us from a wider vision of why and how we are.”*
I guess it is just human nature, the tendency to emphasize differences between ourselves and others, but I don’t believe that God sees us that way. I believe God sees value in all humans. After all, aren’t we made in His image?
Communication study has revealed the most important factors which make an impression on us as we encounter others. As humans, we jump to conclusions very quickly about other people due to the appropriateness or inappropriateness of their clothing. Body type comes into play next with the lean, muscular build [mesomorph] edging out the tall, less muscular build [ectomorph] and the heavy, less muscular build [endomorph] coming in last. Facial expression is the prominent feature as people draw closer. Positive facial expressions like the smile are much preferred [all features are going up]. Negative facial expressions are not preferred [a frown for example, with facial features going down].
Does any of this matter to God?
Not really. Judging people according to their clothing, their body type or their facial expression are concerns we have as humans. I don’t believe this is very important to God. Managing the impression we make on others is a conscious or subconscious process in which people attempt to influence the perceptions of other people about a person, object or event. Many of us try to manage our impressions because we want to be accepted by others or we want to influence others. Maybe we want to create a specific social identity through managing our impression.
If you believe in God, maybe this activity is futile. Labberton says “Our story is not finally our own. Our life is not our own. We ‘live and move and have our being’ because of God. We are the treasure of God’s design” .
Sounds like God is truly in control…of who we are.
If God sees through all of the stuff we do to impress others, what should we do? If we dedicate our lives to loving God, maybe we can begin to see ourselves and our neighbors more clearly. “The shadow lines fall in different places. Where there had been only shadows is now sight. What had been hidden is visible. What had seemed small may now be much bigger, and what may have seemed big might now be much smaller” . In essence, we can begin to see the value in others as God sees value.
Differences begin to matter less, efforts at impression management may seem silly and harsh judgement can be abandoned for something more Christ-like…love.
Emphasizing my point of view at the expense of another’s is no longer appropriate. God does not want us to do that. Maybe even today’s focus on diversity is not correct. Emphasizing that culture is not monochromatic may be ok, if it keeps one perspective from overpowering all the others. But focusing on distinctions can draw people further apart rather than together. I believe God intends us to tear down walls of hostility. He wants us to live in peace and mutual respect.
Our discussion of Pastor Labberton’s book is drawing to a close and again his focus is on the similarity we see in all those who confess their love for Jesus.
“When every knee is bowed and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, we will be a community.”
In God’s wider vision, maybe He sees us as a worshipping community, seeing each other as valued children of God, made in His image, loving Him, loving our neighbors and loving ourselves.
Ephesians 2:14 : “ For He himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…”
*Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor