Not too long ago, a friend and I were talking about how we unfairly label people...especially at church. It really bothered me because I realized how absolutely correct we were in our assessment. When it comes to judging and labeling people, the church is guilty as charged. There's a cool story in the Bible that, I think, shows us how to respond to labeling others. *Warning* if you get squeamish about saliva, this isn't the read for you:
"…Some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?" He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around." Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly…"
- Mark 8:22-25
This is a familiar passage about how Jesus healed a blind man. But, let's delve into this story a little more...
Why do you think Jesus had to touch the blind man twice for his sight to be restored? I mean, couldn't Jesus get it right the first time?! To be honest, I don't think He actually needed to touch the man again. I think He chose to. I think that Jesus wanted to make a point with His second touch. I suspect that He was showing us that even if He spits in our eyes, it doesn’t mean that we will automatically have clear vision. Sometimes we need for Him to touch us over and over again to help us see clearly.
Let me ask you: Do you have blurred vision? When you look people, what do you see? The truth is: anytime we look at another human being as an object -- just like the blind man -- there’s a good chance that our vision is still blurred, even if Jesus has already spit in our eyes. The Church is full of people who have had their eyes spat in by Jesus, and yet their vision is still blurred; folks like you and me. Whenever we label people with terms like black/white; Democrat/Republican, Homo/Hetero, sinner/saint, rich/poor, etc., there’s a good chance that we're not seeing people clearly enough. What we need is for Jesus to touch us again for us to have our sight fully restored; that is, to see things as He does.
After that, Jesus asked the man what he saw. Jesus gave the man the opportunity to confess to Him that his vision wasn't complete. Everyday that we're alive, Jesus gives us the opportunity to tell Him that we don't see people as we should. He gives us the chance to tell Him that our vision is still blurred.
Jesus doesn’t see people as objects to be labeled, but rather as His creations to be loved. And if you think a person – any person – is above receiving Jesus’ love, then you might need more spit in your eyes. You may have to be touched again. If you find yourself spending more time condemning others behind your bully pulpit, than you spend your time elevating people in Christ, maybe you need a little more spit in your eyes. Then after Jesus works for you, tell Him what you see.
As Christians, I think that we should pray to see others as Jesus sees them; through the eyes of love.