What does someone’s soul look like, really?
What do the heart, motivation, values and beliefs… all of those things… really look like?
We’re in a culture that so easily masks these things because we have a perception of what we believe others need to see.
A homeless person who is wearing worn, tattered clothes is pushing a shopping cart carrying a big heavy bag. Maybe he hasn’t shaved in a really long time. He’s dirty. He smells bad. We look at that person and we make dozens of instantaneous judgements and assumptions about that person. We wonder why they have chosen to live on the street or about the path that led them to live on the street. We make assumptions about their motivation or their unwillingness to go get a job. We make assumptions about laziness or an apathetic approach to life. We might feel some pity, but, overall, we judge.
Someone asks for money for lunch and we don’t give it to them because we think it’s going to go for something other than lunch. When is the last time someone asked for money for a meal and you actually paid for a meal and saw what happened?
Why do we do this? Why, as people who claim to believe in something that says everyone matters, that every life is important, and that nobody is just a number, do we continue to judge from the outside?
We are currently in a place in our society where there are more and more assumptions made of one another. We hear about something on the news… a riot, a conflict, a problem… and we make a snap judgement from the outside. Do we ever actually pause to consider the heart of the person or people who are affected, apart from the behavior?
What do these responses say about us as a culture — as a Christian culture — when we begin making those same judgements, those same assumptions? Are we so disconnected from what we say we believe that we miss the very people who need us the most?
Everyone is reaching out for something. They reach out for acceptance and a sense of belonging. They reach out for someone to believe them and accept them. They reach out for attention. They reach out for any number of things. Some do it with a bottle, some a needle, some a private computer. If you can name it, they’re reaching out for it.
I believe a lot of us make the assumption that there is someone else available with a free hand that can more easily or effectively pull that person out of his or her troubles. Or we assume the person who is reaching out should have the capacity to pull themselves out on their own. Maybe yes, but maybe no. But even if that is true, did Jesus ask us to get up alone?
What if the “thing” that people we know, who are hurting and reaching for most, is us?
How would our day be different if we saw people through a different set of eyes? What if we saw the homeless person, or the alcoholic, or the person in pain as someone who was truly looking for our help? What if they called us by name and asked, “Will you help me?” How many of us would actually say no?