“Jesus, looking at him, loved him” Mark 10:21a
My Grandmother has this great piece of needlework in her kitchen that I always love to look at, it reads, “God is watching you, but he understands.” It’s always given me comfort. The reminder that God is watching you is often given so that we’ll behave and walk the straight and narrow. There’s always a tone of judgment there. But the addition of the words “but he understands” gives a whole new meaning. God understands the struggles and the hardships; he looks at us in love, even in our less than glorious moments just as he looked on in love to the rich young man in his less than shining moment. God looks at us with love, always.
This past Sunday in my sermon I mused on how judgmental we all can be…especially us comfortable, decent, middle class types. I observed how often it happens that we can be in a grocery store and see the person in front of us pull out a WIC card or some other form of government assistance. What do we do? We start making note of what all is in their grocery cart and passing judgment on their need or lack thereof for those items. We look to see if they have on bright and shiny shoes, if their clothes are nicer than our, their cell phone newer…shoot we even track them in the parking lot to see what kind of car they drive. Sure we make excuses for our behavior, but when we really boil it all down we’re passing judgment on them. (FYI, passing judgment is God’s domain not ours, treading on God’s domain is sin…just so you know)
Well, a few days later I find myself in Sam’s club picking up a few things. I kept seeing a young woman riding around on one of those carts to help the disabled and elderly. Eventually I was behind her in line. Now, lets just say that she and I were different from one another and that old Adam in me, mister sinnful himself reared his ugly head. I noted that she was young and didn’t seem to have any noticeable physical ailments that would impede her from walking. “Why was she using this when a seemingly more deserving person might be doing without?” I thought. Was she lazy? Maybe a freeloader?
Then it hit square between the eyes, this is what I had talked about on Sunday. It’s kinda rough when your own sermon gets you. As I thought more about it I realized, I didn’t know the first thing about this young woman’s story. Instead I was standing silently by passing my judgment on her, and that’s sin plain and simple.
Every one of us has a story to tell. Buried beneath the surface there’s a story of pain and sorrow; joy and happiness; successes, failures, triumphs, heartbreak and all the rest. Everytime I hear a story from someone I walk away changed, impressed by the sheer magnitude of a life lived. Hearing a story of someone is like watching a master artist paint a painting. You are the canvas, your story is the paint, and the God who watches over you is the painter creating his masterpiece. You are God’s masterpiece and God looks upon you with love. I think that’s why God wants us to consider each other as nothing less than a beloved Child of God. As we go out may we struggle to no longer look upon one another with our judgment and instead know that behind each face is a story.