A recent gathering on the shore of a lake to celebrate the baptism of about 15 people. I’m sitting in the back, looking over a sandy beach full of people in chairs….. oh, there’s the guy that I heard did this or that…there’s that mom that never quite got over the church staff’s decision about something or other…. I rehearse the litany of unfavorable things I know, or have heard, about each person.
I catch my critical focus…. and decide to look around with different eyes. There’s the guy who took extra time to make something really great for a kids’ fun night…. there’s the mom who was a really thoughtful Sunday School teacher last year…. there’s the family that always gives me hope for my kids…. there’s the woman who encourages me without fail…. there’s the family that takes time to be Jesus to their actual geographical neighbors.
And that’s all it takes. A simple, quick decision to see them differently. First, they are a group of imperfect people at whose inconsistencies and imperfections I can shake my head with a “tsk, tsk, tsk”. Will they ever get it, I wonder. THEN, they are a group of people who allow Jesus to shine through their gifts… who take the time to serve…. who make the ordinary little decisions in their families to raise and disciple extraordinary kids…. the quiet ones who truly surrender most of themselves every day… the ones who will never have books published, or likely won’t speak at events, but who spend each day being true to their God and loving the people around them. The shift is in my perspective and my level of humility, not in the reality of these people. Even while being the same men and women who make mistakes and sometimes bump into each other’s opinions, this is the church. Maybe community isabout worship, and service, and sharing, and choosing to see how another is growing, rather than choosing to see how badly they need to. Will I ever get it, I wonder.
Does this ever happen to you?