27 February 2020
Read the Label ~ See It As I See It
Greetings Dear Reader,
When I was first beginning to work as a professor, I determined that my students would always know how deeply I cared for them. Years later, when I moved to my third teaching position, as chair of the department, my fellow department chairs were trying to warn me about the group of freshmen I was about to inherit. They had a reputation for being difficult.
I formed a plan to win them over and shared it with my colleagues. They laughed at me kindly. The plan included some very strict guidelines for attendance, work submission, and classroom interaction. One of the other chairs said that I would not last a month. The other part of my plan was to ignore the labels placed on these students and show them their potential through love and respect.
I am still friends with most of that first class of freshmen. I am proud of the way they have built their careers. There is an aspect to the labels we put on others that is both unkind and self-satisfying. We see the negative aspect of an individual, pull out our label maker, and brand them for life.
I imagine the labels I carry in the minds of others at times. They have decided what they think of me and affixed their opinions to my existence. Some of them are deserved. This drives me to be very careful of what I print as a sign for others. When Christ-followers do this, they become no better than modern-day Pharisees. They claim religious authority whilst ignoring the weighty matters of the obligation to love, kindness, forgiveness, patience, and humility. When we deal in labels instead of grace, we devour that space others need to see Christ and follow him as well.
It is not enough that I not affix labels to others. I must ignore the ones already affixed. I must look past the labels worn out of force or choice and see the human life that exits beyond it. No matter the direction or quality of that life, my duty is to love him or her with all that is possible from the Father. The journey home requires that I travel with whoever falls in step with me and that I travel with them full of love and kindness. The more I do this, the more find that the labels fade to nothing and the person beneath them is amazing and beautiful. This is the way of peace, Dear Reader. This is how we must walk.
It is in the love of a person in the moment that I can get a glimpse of how Christ sees others. In yielding to this glimpse, I can look past everything to the fellow traveler who is as worthy of love as I am. In these moments I can understand why Christ asks me to deal in grace and love; why he asks me to “see it as I see it.”
Wishing you joy in the journey,
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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