Noticing others with true spiritual concern is a discipline. In Jay’s message last Sunday he identified several common barriers that prevent us from paying attention to others as we should. Some of those barriers may be harder for us to identify than others because they are intertwined with our own hidden agenda.
The sad reality may be that too many of us are content with noticing only enough about others to confirm our presumptions about them. We “see enough” or “hear enough” to settle for relating to them accordingly and stigmatize them based on first impressions. It’s lazy. It’s careless. It’s wrong. It’s not following the example of Jesus.
In today’s Scripture reading we are given yet another example of Jesus calling someone to engage in the ministry of “noticing.” Did you notice it?
Jesus was dining in the home of Simon, the Pharisee. When she found out that Jesus was there, a woman from the city who had a reputation of being “a sinner” ran inside to see Jesus. She fell at His feet, weeping, wiping Jesus’ feet with her tears as she anointed His feet with perfume.
Simon was aghast at the sight! What he saw was a shameful display of impropriety and lack of respect for social protocol. He saw a sinner; an immoral woman. And inwardly he chided Jesus for allowing it to happen.
But there was more to the story than what Simon saw at first. So much more! And Jesus demanded that Simon notice this about her. “Do you see this woman?” Jesus asked (verse 44). And really, it was less a question than it was an indicting command. Because of this woman’s reputation in the community, you can bet that the one thing Simon was working hard not to do was look at her—probably writhing in an awkward craning of his neck and rolling of his eyes. As a matter of parody, it might have been comical. But Jesus would have none of it! He said, “Look at her!” “Notice her!”
As it turns out, Simon’s refusal to notice the woman, and I mean really look at her with spiritual concern, said more about what was wrong about him than about her. In that moment she was modeling everything God looks for in souls, and Simon everything God rejected. She was repentant, Simon was self-justified. She was humble, Simon was proud. She was grateful, Simon was self–absorbed.
As you practice the art of noticing others this week, make sure you take a second look. And then take a third look in order to see past their “issues.” And then look closer still in order to see past your own “issues,” that you might see in them a person whom God loves.
Prayer: Lord, what keeps me from seeing others as you do? Could it be that I am getting in the way?