Recently, I have been meditating on walking in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, moving forward both reverently and cautiously, yet excitedly and confidently as we live out our daily lives as followers of the Triune God. Below is the second of three steps we must take in this process.
Scottish author and minister George MacDonald once said, “If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God.” As we consider what it means to walk in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, à la the early disciples, we began with remembering our own journeys and what might have been.
Great! God has done a marvelous work in our lives, transforming our sin-laden selves into vessels for his glory. Now what? Now we must seek God-inspired vision. Faithfully witnessing to friends, neighbors, and strangers involves taking off our worldly glasses and putting on the eyes of God. “For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
I have a neighbor who, from all outward appearances, is very hard core and far from God: he has many tattoos, goes out nearly every hour for a smoke and appears stand-offish to those he doesn’t know. And yet all my opinions of him changed in a moment. Coming home from work one day, I noticed he was hunched over a drainage hole, looking melancholy and weary. “What are you doing?” I asked. He looked up with a tired expression, responding, “I am trying to get a baby chick out. A few of them fell in with the storms. I was able to get another one out, but this one is stuck.”
It was as though I were in a modern-day “Peter and the sheet” experience (see Acts 10:9-16). God let down this sheet, unveiling my eyes to the very imago Dei in my neighbor. It was a variation of “Do not call anything impure that I have made clean,” with me gawking at how, in my worldly blindness, I had missed the very imprint of God on my non-Christian, hard core, disordered, and disheveled neighbor.
“God-inspired vision” means that we are willing to have our opinions and judgments of others discredited for the good. We throw off our murky, tainted glasses for the crystal clear ones in which we really can see that others have bits and pieces of God’s image, whether they know it or not, whether they care or not.
British screenwriter, actor, and film director Richard Curtis, famous for films such as “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Mr. Bean,” was interviewed by Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels on the topic of leadership and passion. This is what Curtis said about his passion to eliminate global poverty:
“I can really only do one thing: I can write. But I will ruthlessly do the thing that I do to try to rectify the general injustice of poverty. All I know is that a guy over there should not be dying when I have so much. I promise you, we can achieve world poverty being crushed by a new generation. We just need to find leaders who have the courage to do it. I’d love to say that 10 years from now the best thing I did was to try and engage the churches in eliminating global poverty, which turned out to be their great victory.”
Curtis is founder of the charity Comic Relief and the fundraiser Make Poverty History, both of which raise money to eradicate global poverty. Curtis has done tremendous things in his passion for equality. Oh, and did you know that Curtis is not a Christian? However, even in his statement above we see he greatly values the compassionate, caring community of the church.
Both my neighbor and Curtis have the most foundational element of faith — a kernel of something reflecting the very character and nature of God as compassionate and kind. Sadly, both are wearing the same murky, clouded glasses we often wear, but theirs are far and away much worse: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
We cannot all wear those glasses! For we must be the ones who take them off to see how each person is made in God’s image in order to help him or her see more clearly not only the reality of who he or she is as God’s image-bearer, but also more of the Great Image-bearer, Jesus.
I recently told my neighbor I would be praying for him as he deals with an extremely painful situation. In my heart, I am also praying that even as God gave me “inspired vision,” that he would give my neighbor new glasses as well.
This week, pray that God would give you new glasses so that you would see others through his eyes — and then pray that those little kernels of imago Deis would bear great fruit as you remind your neighbors that they are good and deeply loved by God.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.” (Ephesians 1:18)