What do you see?


All in the Family was a comedy that aired on American television from 1971-1979. There was much not to like about the show, but there were also moments of tremendous insight into human behavior. In one of the episodes, Edith and Archie were attending Edith’s high school class reunion. Edith encountered an old classmate by the name of Buck who, unlike his earlier days, had become excessively obese. Edith and Buck had a delightful conversation about old times and the things that they did together, but remarkably Edith didn’t seem to notice how extremely heavy Buck had become.

Later, when Edith and Archie were talking, she said in her whiny voice, “Archie, ain’t Buck a beautiful person?” Archie looked at her with a disgusted expression and said, “You’re a pip, Edith. You know that? You and I look at the same guy and you see a beautiful person and I see a blimp.”

Edith got a puzzled expression on her face and said, “Yeah, ain’t it too bad?”

One of the things that stands out as you read through the gospels is that when Jesus looked at people, he saw something beautiful that no one else saw. He didn’t just see a woman who had been married five times and was living in fornication (John 4); he saw someone with a desire to learn about the Messiah. He didn’t just see tax collectors and prostitutes (Luke 15; Matthew 21); he saw people longing for a deeper relationship with God. He didn’t just see lepers and people with various physical ailments; he saw the deeper needs of the heart.

I feel a bit like Archie Bunker. I often find myself saying to God, “You and I both look at the same person, and you see a beautiful person on the inside while all I see are the flaws on the outside.” And I can picture God saying, “Yeah, ain’t it too bad?”

Father, please forgive me of my blindness and help me to see people the way you see them. To consider them with the same value that you place on them. To extend the same kind of love that you extend. To focus more on the inside than the outside. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” (I Samuel 16:7)

Alan Smith

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