Stop, Look, and Listen for God: Love Each Other

He has love for us.

To look with the imagination as well as with the eyes. To look with empathy and compassion. To see each other as Rembrandt saw the old woman, as Holden Caulfield and Seymour Glass with X-ray eyes, which, of course, Jesus supremely has. The most precious words from His lips — and to me I think the most precious of all — are,

Come unto Me all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.

Those words are addressed not only to the people who are obviously laboring and heavy laden — the people in nursing homes, the poor, the dispossessed, the starving — they are addressed to everybody. They are addressed to the beautiful girl on her wedding day. They are addressed to the man who just made a million dollars. They are addressed to the young graduate of whatever it is, who is heading off into the great big world. Jesus sees that all of us labor and are heavy laden and are in need of rest or are in need of Him or in need of peace. So we are to see each other like that, as Jesus sees us, framed as if each one of our faces is seen by Him. And the frame He sees us in, if you have to give it a word, is the frame of love.

He sees us because He loves us; He loves us because He sees us.

Imagine yourself in a big city in a crowd of people. What it would be like to see all the people in the crowd like Jesus does — an anonymous crowd with old ones and young ones, fat ones and thin ones, attractive ones and ugly ones — think what it would be like to love them. If our faith is true, if there is a God, and if God loves, He loves each one of those. Try to see them as loved. And then try to see them, these faces, as loved by you. What would it be like to love these people, to love these faces — the lovable faces, the kind faces, gentle, compassionate faces? That’s not so hard. But there are lots of other faces — disagreeable faces, frightening faces, frightened faces, cruel faces, closed faces. I find if you think of them as your family, it helps. You can do it, and it’s an exercise worth trying.

What it would be like to love each one of these faces, to see the face and to love the face for what lies there, to meet the face that is finally — as that minister said in answer to C. S. Lewis’s question “What did Hitler look like?” — “Like Christ.”

Ah, they are all peculiar treasures. I used that as a title of a book — it’s from Exodus where God said to Israel, “You shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people.” God meant it for all of us. And when I think of God treasuring us, I often think of another art that I haven’t talked about yet — about television. I think of television as an art — abused and used for all the wrong purposes, and corny and dreadful in lots of ways, but in some cases enormously powerful. Like that old sitcom All in the Family, for instance — Archie Bunker and Meathead and Gloria and all that. It makes you laugh a lot, but it’s also moving, rather like Garrison Keillor who has the same great gift for being very funny and at the same time very moving. I remember one scene in particular where Meathead, Archie’s son-in-law, and Gloria, Archie’s daughter, were leaving for the West Coast, and this was the good-bye scene. Archie and Meathead were standing out on the front stoop of that little house where they lived and where Archie and Meathead had fought all those years. Archie is an arch-bigot, a racist, a sexist, and more, while Meathead is a fire-breathing liberal, and they’ve been tangling for years and years and years. Now here they were about to say good-bye to each other and speechless. Neither could think of a thing to say. All of a sudden, Meathead threw his arms around Archie Bunker and said, “You thought I hated you, but all the time I loved you.” An incandescent moment. And Archie’s face sort of folded in, like it was just punched with a fist. He had no words to say, but it was as if he spoke those words too — you thought I hated you, you thought I was indifferent to you, you thought I wasn’t around, you thought I didn’t exist… but all the time, I loved you.

Love each other like that. Love each other knowing that you are loved. Love yourself knowing that I love you.

Excerpted with permission from The Remarkable Ordinary by Frederick Buechner, copyright Frederick Buechner Literary Assets, LLC.

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Your Turn

We are loved. And so we can love. Love requires having perspective — seeing people as God sees them. Who do you need to really see today? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

Frederick Buechner

Frederick Buechner is the author of more than thirty published books and has been an important source of inspiration and learning for many readers. A prolific writer, Buechner’s books have been translated into twenty-seven languages. He has been called a "major talent" by the New York Times, and "one of our most original storytellers" by USA Today. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Buechner has been awarded honorary degrees from institutions including Yale University and Virginia Theological Seminary.

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