Whenever I drive around Los Angeles, I am often overwhelmed by the sheer number of cars, motorbikes, trucks, taxis and people everywhere.
This is the same feeling I get whenever I travel to cities like Manila, Cebu, Davao City and countless places with large populations. My thoughts turn to Mark 6:34: “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”
Whenever I go to these places, I am often told to be alert and watch out for possible dangers. Evidently, most cities have high crime areas with pickpockets working as teams. We all see number of people looking for handouts. A few are crippled, some have small children with them and some don’t look any different from anyone else on the street. It is difficult to determine the difference between those really in need and those begging as a profession. We are usually forewarned not to give money to anyone, because it could cause problems on the street. But it is always unsettling for me to see so many in need and to realize I can do nothing for these beloved children of God.
Yes—that’s how I see them. They are God’s beloved children who needs to know their Abba/Father and his love for them. I feel compassion for people whose lives are filled with longing, searching for answers in their pain and need.
I didn’t always view people this way. In times past I’ve travelled to developing countries and gotten impatient with the locals. I got tired of the incessant begging, of the pollution in the streets, at the rude way I perceived I was being treated, at the rude behavior in lines. (Although usually there were no lines; just a mob crowding forward trying to get to the front.) I’d get frustrated at the local people’s inability or unwillingness to be on time.
God has helped me see people as he sees them, which has changed my worldview. I am learning to appreciate cultural differences. I am learning to love and appreciate people as they are. Once my worldview changed, my behavior toward others changed, and I found it easier to build relationships with God’s beloved children in different cultures.
You do not have to cross oceans to learn this. We have multiple cultures in our communities, in our restaurants and stores. And it’s not just about culture. When we ask God to see others as he sees them, we stop paying such close attention to gender, age, race, ethnicity, lifestyle or religious background. We start to see people as Jesus saw them, and we start to respond as Jesus responded. “He had compassion on them and he began teaching them many things.”
When we start to see others from God’s point of view, we see them as brothers and sisters in Christ. In other words—as equals. We see others as having value. We see people that Jesus died for and lives for and loves. We see people Jesus has forgiven, and adopted and reconciled and included—whether they realize it or not. We see many who are confused about who God is, and we love them just as they are. We see some who have no clue that God is real or good or their Abba/Father and they act out accordingly, and we love them anyway. We see some who live lifestyles that frighten us, or that we are personally opposed to, and we love them anyway because they are God’s children.
When we ask God to help us see others as he sees them, I believe he gives us the ability to love people regardless of who they are, what they believe or what they do. And we desire to somehow, some way, let them see a bit of who God is through our response to them. Our constant hope and prayer is that God uses us and others to help all know they are loved unconditionally by a Loving Father above who truly cares.