When we see people the way God sees them, we look at everyone from a totally different perspective.
It takes some effort, some intentionality, to rid ourselves of the hidden veins of prejudice in our lives and begin to embrace everyone around us with the love of Christ, to love others like Jesus loves us. But ￼it’s critical to face our unfounded fears and to model for our children and teach them by precept that God loves all of us.
Chip Ingram says, “Subtle as it may be, when you make a decision about the value or significance of a person you don’t know for whatever external reason, the Bible calls it prejudice, and it is a big deal to God.”
God is consumed with the heart and the motives, not with stuff or status or similarities. And when He looks at differences, He sees potential instead of problems.
If we raise our kids to “look good” and impress others, we aren’t imitating God; we’re conforming to the world around us. But when we see people the way God sees them, we look at everyone from a totally different perspective. In Matthew 25, Jesus shed a new light on the matters of equality, inclusivity, and acceptance:
I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . . Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. — Matthew 25:35–36, 40
Realizing that everyone we encounter is Jesus in disguise makes an enormous difference in our perspective. Jesus wearing designer jeans or hand-me-down dungarees. Jesus living in a palace or a cardboard box under a bridge. Jesus dawning a turban or sporting a shaved head. Jesus covered with black skin, brown skin, white skin.
We should treat everyone the way we would treat Jesus.
So affirm your children when you see that behavior in them. And when they miss an opportunity, try to discover why they held back. In time, acceptance can become second nature for them, a healthy habit that puts a smile on God’s face.
After all, Jesus interacted with people at every level of the social strata. He honored women. He welcomed the very young and the very old. He encouraged the poor. He had close friends who were wealthy and close friends who were homeless. He dined with prostitutes. He interacted with religious leaders. He did lunch with the most despised in society.
Clearly, Jesus didn’t show favoritism to any class or group. Neither should we. When your kids see that Christ-like spirit in you, they will be more apt to treat everyone with honor. They will also begin to bear an uncanny resemblance to their Lord.
Our kids need to experience opportunities for relational and spiritual growth. To help make that happen, consider these questions:
- How can our children learn to see people for who they are on the inside instead of the outside?
- How do we teach them to befriend those who are beyond the borders of their comfortable circles?
- What can we parents do to help our kids take an interest in the disabled, the disadvantaged, or the just plain different?
Like every other spiritual principle, our children learn either prejudice or inclusivity from us. Our kids see how we live, what we value, and the way we treat people. So if you don’t like what you see in your children, look in the mirror. The fact is, they often become what you model for them.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. — Romans 12:16
So make it your personal goal to live the way Jesus lived. Jesus, who valued all people, who welcomed the outcasts and sinners, who ignored the gossip and the accusations from the Pharisees, and went about the business of loving people the way God loved them.
* * *
What ways are you trying to help your children or grandchildren see others the way God sees us? Leave a comment and share your ideas for how you put this into practice below — we’d love to hear from you!