Perceptions from afar are usually off-base. Typically, they are formed with a picture painted by others who also perceive from a distance. Nothing beats the experience of learning first-hand, with your guard down, of knowing what things are really like.
I remember people asking me if it was going to be safe living in Mexico, even by a few Mexican friends who have lived a good part of their lives in the US. They spoke about fears of being kidnapped, etc. All the perceptions were based on what they see in the news and it regurgitates in their minds every time they see or hear a story. All this talk towards me even started to make me think too much down here about my safety. I realized right away that this place is no more dangerous than my hometown in South Carolina. The unknown is always scary. Some won’t even come to visit us because of their fears of what they absorb about Mexico. It is understandable when that is all they have been exposed to.
It is kind of sad how that works. People are judged this way too. For example, black people get judged by others based on what is perceived from a distance. The same goes for white people. And it even mixes within races. It truly is a disservice to humanity when we do this. I have learned to take a step back when I hear of someone’s opinion about others, for I have been judged incorrectly in my life many times.
When I was a kid, I learned from others in my surroundings. I really didn’t know better. Some of my friends, who to this day I know are not racist people, would say n!**a jokes as a youth… not really understanding the implications of their words nor the history of the word itself. They absorbed their surroundings. Some of that rubbed off on me as a very young person, but as I entered my teenage years, I looked at life from a totally different perspective once my life was shaken up through my parents’ divorce.
The glasses that you have to wear allow you to see how it wants you to see. It is good to take those glasses off and try another pair to see another perspective. Part of that is being willing and open to listen to others without judgement. Ultimately, it is about desiring to understand someone else’s story. If you are only interested in your own story, then you will forever be a product of your own confinement.
When Jesus starts a conversation with us with the words, “You have heard that it was said to those of old…,” you know things are going to get messy. We cannot allow the mentality or culture around us to blind us from seeing people in their greatest need: That they need a Savior and that Savior is Jesus. In the kingdom of heaven, there is no isolation, segregation, or dissociation, but only communion. Those that confine themselves in their own environment don’t understand the words from Jesus, “Go therefore…” (Matthew 28:18-20). They are words that tell us to get up, to get out, and to reach out.
Nothing rocks our world like allowing Jesus to be absorbed into our lives. Our own glasses get shattered. This happened to Saul (Paul). God had to blind him first so he could see Jesus. I don’t want that to have to happen to me and I know you don’t want that to happen to you. Let us always be open to see what He sees in others.