“… 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
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 2:5
“Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?” — Mark 8:18
We are blind within ourselves. Rejecting God’s Wisdom and His Word, we believe we comprehend who we are. But because of our human nature, our comprehension is colored with emotions and blinded by feelings. The problem is that both mind and heart (feelings) are integral parts of who we are. However, when we attempt to bring our emotions under control, our minds have a distinct disadvantage.
The mind must be taught and trained, first to understand the world around us and then to be brought into line with God’s will for us. Feelings are more basic to us. They need no training. Our unbridled emotions, locked within our fallen selves, naturally will overwhelm our minds at every possible point. Emotions, feelings — which are the “law of the members of my flesh” of which Paul spoke — enslave us in one manner or another: each to his own weakness; each to his own blindness.
“You fatty.” Kaylee looked in the mirror. She felt fat — and miserable. She would scream at her parents when they tried to tell her she needed to eat. The kids at school didn’t understand either. They constantly picked on her and called her skeleton. “They rag on me but celebrate the trans-kids. Why are their feelings better than mine?” She’d brought a razor with her. “I’ll end it all here today. They’ll notice me now.” She walked out of homeroom.
Daquan could see the hurt in Kaylee’s heart. Something made him get up and follow her. He’d wanted to share with her how his life had changed, but he just didn’t have the words. He stopped her as she headed to the girls room. “Can I talk to you a sec?”
Kaylee glanced at him, then looked away and kept walking. “What? I’m busy.”
Daquan glanced around. He’d been warned against talking about this Bible stuff. But the words came; in some way they weren’t even his. “Do you know how wonderful you are?”
Now Kaylee stopped and looked at him. “What? Are you crazy? You hardly know me.”
“Don’t need to. I just know.” His voice grew quiet. “You are wonderfully made — in God’s eyes.”
If she wasn’t hurting so much she might have laughed. Her voice strained, she waved him off. “Even if that were true, nobody else thinks that.”
She looked into his eyes. She saw how beautiful they were, dark but laced with gold. She had not really noticed him for years. Her eyes filled with tears. “How can you say that?” She began to sob.
In last month’s column, I described how desire isolates us from one another. Before we submit to the tyranny of desire, we succumb to the darkness of our feelings. We imprison our minds within a dungeon of unchecked emotions disconnected from the world and from our deepest self as created by God. We withdraw from reality into our own world because we can’t handle the truth — a truth which could be either too terrible or too wonderful to bear.
Once we have succumbed to this prison, we isolate ourselves from people. We do not really see others. We do not want them to see us. Either sight is too painful. Within, we perceive ourselves only by the shallowest of our feelings and we chain ourselves to our own needful darkness. We flatten our lives to conform to that shallow image, usually one focused only upon the flesh — body image or sexual function. We cannot break free. We will not search to discover the joy in which we were fashioned.
Neither do we dare notice people anymore. Fat or thin, beautiful or ugly, talented or clumsy, we observe only the surface and look no deeper. It is much easier to use others and toss them aside, to keep the truth of our being and theirs locked within those dark walls. To expose our souls to others or to the light of God’s eyes risks so great a pain that we cannot bear it.
Our culture — like the Roman culture against which Paul preached — feeds our sin and dissipation; it encourages us to live under the tyranny of feelings. We have abandoned the very help that might provide us the structure for our minds — with our emotions following— to find the answers we desperately seek. We will not hear the covenant call of God’s voice. We do not see the mind of Christ within us. We blind ourselves with the darkness of our own terrible nightmares.
Kaylee began to sob. “How can you say that?”
“Easy. I see you through God’s eyes. You’re beautiful. I saw the beauty of your laugh — in first grade. And graceful. I saw you catch a ball on the playground — in third. You’re smart and kind. You helped other kids with math in sixth grade when they just couldn’t get it.” His eyes were filled with light. “I see more of you than you remember about yourself. God does, too. Don’t you want to remember?” He turned her to look at her reflection. “Now look! See yourself through God’s eyes.”
“I can’t. I … I don’t want to!” She closed her eyes and ran her thumb across the sharp edge of the razor in her pocket.
“I’ll help you remember. Remember your true self as Jesus sees you.” Daquan’s voice grew softer. “I know what you’re going to do.”
She started. “How? How can you know?”
“He told me. We don’t want you to do this.” He slipped his hand in hers and could feel the razor’s edge.
“Why?!” She was trembling with fear.
“Because He loves you — and so do I.” Daquan took her hand. She let him take the razor.
Why does the young person commit suicide? Because she does not see herself through God’s eyes. Why does the man addicted to porn give himself up to its devastation? Because he will not perceive those he craves through God’s eyes. Why does the man cheat on his wife? Because he does not behold her or their marriage through God’s eyes. We grasp every sin — and every destructive notion or feeling — because we fail to observe ourselves through God’s eyes.
God has placed us here to learn to know Him and love Him. Here in this life, we learn to love Him through our relationships with others. Stop! Listen! Look! See yourself and others more clearly. Whom will we save because we see them through the eyes of God? Perhaps we will even save ourselves.
Joseph Stringer writes and speaks on Christian issues in culture in the hope that we may realize transformation in our lives. Watch for his upcoming book, “God Came Down.” He prays that all who hear him or read his works might see through them to the One who has chosen us for life. Check out his blog at www.chosen4life.org