For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in [another's] eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to [another], "Let me take the speck out of your eye," when all the while there is a plank in your own?
~ Matthew 7: 2-4
"Look into my eyes."
How many of us have looked into the eyes of another and not wondered if what we just heard was true? They say that the eyes are the "window to the soul."
As a parent, both of my children were terrible liars. All I had to do is look into their eyes when they told me something to determine if I needed them to "repeat that one more time..."
One of the hardest challenges these days is our ability to look one another in the eye, and live without some form of prejudice.
I grew up in an area of the country that was "southern in thought, and northern in location." Let me note that not all Southerners are prejudice (note that even in the comment there is a disclaimer, thus for the next few paragraphs.)
I didn't really recognize the prejudice until I moved away and began college. When I have returned to the area as a grown adult, I have realized just how deeply rooted our prejudices can be. We may think that we relate to people who are different than us, but our living these thoughts may be very different. (Do what I say, not what I do.)
We have heard the terms color, religion, sexual orientation, or lifestyle while attempting to be "politically correct" as not to offend folks so much, that our responses have been programmed. While we try not to be judgmental, and attempt to see one another as God sees us, as equals, there are still those times when different circumstances in our initial thoughts, that sometimes there are unfiltered moments, that will reveal that our prejudices are still present and very real.
Let's face it, not everyone is like "me," "you," "us," or "them."
Today we seem to see an environment where people attempt to stir up fear, discomfort, suspicion even hostility, when we consider the stranger next to us. In the Hebrew text of scripture we are reminded to care for the widow, orphan and the stranger. Today, strangers seem to make us lose our sense of security simply by being different than ourselves.
Only when we fully claim that God loves us in an unconditional way and look at "those other persons" as equally loved can we begin to discover that the great variety in being human is an expression of the immense richness of God's heart.
Only then, will the planks and splinters, and distance from one another, gradually disappear.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear God, when I find that I am confronted by my own prejudices, may I remember that even the stranger is Your child and that You love them just as much as me. Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.