On seeing

If we are to love our neighbours, before doing anything else we must see our neighbours. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.

--Frederick Buechner

To really see people, as Buechner urges above, is not so simple as telling them the right story.

My boss and I sometimes talk about how in our zeal to "reach the lost," evangelicals sometimes fail to actually like people. Of course, we would all decry treating people as projects, but it's really quite easy to do. We so easily focus on "the need," be it spiritual or material, that we reduce people to what they are not. 

I'm not convinced that the starting place of the good news should be convincing people of their sin and need for salvation. I think we tend to have an niggling conviction, however hard we try to quash it, that there is something broken in us. The good news starts with the fact that we are made in the image of the Creator. Despite the inevitability of things that are wrong with us, there is something inherently right as well. Seeing the Creator's loving fingerprints on us is the beginning of the hope of the gospel.


Anberlin (my favourite band of all time) has an epic (overused word that I intentionally used here) song partially related to this (there are intertwining stories within it) - of how the church can hurt people by seeing them only as projects to save. 'All you are to them is now a lost cause - all you are to them is now causes.'

Of course the song also portrays how the church is full of hypocrites who are themselves no better - 'just all of us, the lost causes.'

Song is called (*Fin). Look it up if you're interested.

Thanks for the thoughts.

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