I love to people watch. It’s a weird past time, but I do it often. Passing people on my way to work I wonder what they are going to do that day, are they happy, are they carrying burdens?
Today, while people watching, I passed a bi-racial couple and found myself surprised at my first thought. Oh! Well that was unexpected! I had to remind myself that it shouldn’t be shocking.
I saw the love and the unity of the couple and when they passed by, I caught the eye of the woman and smiled genuinely. I was happy for her, but in the beginning I was caught by the statistic of the couple. I had to refrain from categorizing the couple and reframe what I was seeing.
Does that happen to you? We see something and or someone and immediately try to put them into a box, try to make them fit into what we know and understand.
But what do we do when what we see, hear, or experience doesn’t fit neatly into a box?
A person in my life lives life with these boxes. Everyone, everything, every experience, must be tagged, marked, categorized, catalogued, and boxed up. If it begins with an A it must stay in that box, even if later it is really supposed to be in the H box.
In trying to understand this person and love them like Christ, I struggle each time.
I could play the same game, categorize this person as critical, judgmental, and bitter and leave it at that. But then how is that loving like Jesus? What does loving like Jesus look like?
Jesus would meet someone, hear their story, and then challenge them to move to something better. Many of the people He met would accept the challenge and become someone, something different through His grace. Others, like the rich, young ruler and even his own disciple, Judas, heard the challenge and decided the category Jesus had for them wasn’t what they wanted. He offered them freedom if they would just embrace Jesus, but they decided the way their lives were was better.
And that is what they did. They walked away from what God offered. They chose to keep the boxes, instead of refraining from living the same way and reframing their lives to see them as Christ did. They lost the blessing because they thought their boxes were better.
O Best Beloved, we are not here to box up people, we are here to be a part of setting them free. My favorite example of this challenge was given by Jesus as he read from Isaiah 61 in the Temple, even telling His listeners that what they heard was fulfilled in their hearing.
Isaiah 61:1-4 :The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify Him. They will rebuild the ancient ruins; they will restore the former devastations; they will renew the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
Boxes no more, they were refraining from categorizing others and themselves, they were now experiencing freedom. Their lives were now reframed by God’s Amazing Grace.
Dear One, are you boxing up people or setting them free? Let us pray for each other, that we will refrain and reframe according to God’s purposes and plans.