When I originally read this chapter the first time I did this study, I was led to hear one message within the words. As I have reread it several times today, I feel like God wants me to hear a completely different message.
We are all worth something in God’s eyes. Every person, no matter who they are, has worth. The people we pass on the streets who may be sleeping on a park bench, the irritating coworker who asks ridiculous questions or who is in everyone’s business, those who are lonely, those who are angry, those who are suffering, the thief, the murderer, the liar, and the holiest people we know- they all have worth in God’s eyes.
As I read this chapter I was struck with a 2×4 right between the eyes… if we all have worth in God’s eyes then that means I too have worth in God’s eyes, even when I fail. We are called to not only see other’s worth, but our own worth as well.
Chapter 17: Radical Relationships
I think most of us will take away some of the same things out of this chapter- we need to love those who challenge us as well as those deemed “forgettable”. We need to reach out to those outside of our comfort zone and we need to break the societal norms and include those who are not normally included. It’s a message that the Gospel repeats over and over again for good reason. Christ reached out to those on the fringes, He called to the sinners, and He helped to radically change their lives. It is a wonderful way to live and we should each model our lives and attitudes after this teaching.
This is the message I got the first time I did this study. Today God is calling me to a different understanding. As I read this chapter I wondered how many of us often feel like we are ones standing on the fringes of society. Would we be the ones shunned by the community because we are different than others? Are we considered sinners whom others look down upon? Are we not worthy of people’s time and energy? My guess is that each of us has felt this way at one time or another.
So, how does Jesus reaching out to the lowliest people relate to us? Well, the people Jesus associated with were often those whom society deemed to be unworthy and yet He still not only saw great potential but He also saw God in each and every one of those people. He sees the same in us. To Christ we are more than just the sinner, the prostitute, the tax collector, the adulterer, the leper, the gossip, or the drunkard. We are children of God and He reaches out to us to encourage us to become more than we are.
Point to Ponder: Every person is as important and valuable as the person you consider most important and valuable.
If we stop to think about how important certain people are in our lives we may be overcome with feelings of intense love. God feels this same way about us. Even when others don’t see our worth, God does. While we are called to see each and every person’s worth, we can’t forget that we too are worthy of God’s love. We too are valuable and important. Those of us who feel like we are on the fringe of society for whatever reason, that we are missed or ignored, or that we don’t meet the expectations of those around us and thus are not important, well, we need to understand that in God’s eyes we are equally important and loved.
It might be that God is calling us out of our own comfort zone to accept His love and His call. We have to ignore others who say we are not enough and know that God feels we are. When Christ called His Disciples He didn’t call those who were perfect, who were educated in faith, or who were accepted by everyone around them. Instead, He called the imperfect, the uneducated, and the outcasts. He calls us too in our imperfection.
Verse to Live: “Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy.” Psalm 82:3-4
This call to bring justice the weak, the lowly, and the destitute is a call for each of us regardless of our position in life. We are all called to reach out to others and to see their inherent dignity and worth. Even if we are denied this for ourselves, we still must see it in others.
Question to Consider: What is God saying to you through this teaching today?
For me it is easy to see the worth in the lowly and the outcast. It is easy for me to reach out to them and try to help lift them up. However, it is harder to see my own worth. It is easy for me to feel like an outcast, ignored, ridiculed, or not valuable. I think that in this chapter Christ is reminding me that even when I feel unworthy, He finds me worthwhile. When I am ignored, He sees me. When I am on the fringe, He reaches out to me and pulls me closer.
I believe because I feel this way sometimes, Christ tells me I have a greater responsibility to help others who may feel this way too. If I am aware that people are being treated poorly I have to speak up; if I don’t then I will be held even more responsible because I know that it is wrong.
Your Turn: Do you see Christ in everyone you meet? Do you put values on other people based on what they look like, what job they have, or what their position in society happens to be? Do you feel that you are on the fringe of society? Do you feel forgotten or ignored? Is it hard for you to see your worth?
Prayer: Jesus, open my eyes so that I can see every person I encounter each day as you see them.
Help me, Lord, to see not only others, but myself as well, through your eyes. Help me to understand that each and every person has value and worth. Amen.