Friday, June 19, 2015

The Lord Does Not See as Mortals See

            Centuries ago, the prophet Samuel was sent by God to find and anoint the person whom God had picked to be the next king of Israel.  Samuel obeyed; but in his mental baggage, he carried along his preconceived ideas of what a king would look like.  When he was led to Jesse’s eight sons, Samuel naturally figured the oldest and strongest would be the one God would tell him to anoint.

            What a surprise was in store for Samuel!  One by one God rejected them -- son after son -- till the strong, older ones were all passed by.  Samuel had counted to seven with no future-king chosen by God.  When Samuel asked if there were more sons, Jesse told him:  “There remains the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.”  And Samuel asked to see that young shepherd, David.  Amazed, Samuel was instructed by God to anoint David!

            Recently, a teenager explained a high-school writing assignment to me.  The class was taken to a public place, where people were walking, drinking coffee, waiting for buses and conversing.  The teacher asked each student to choose one of those people to observe.  Without talking, they recorded their person’s distinguishing physical characteristics:  gender, height, approximate age, body type, hair style and color, skin color, body art, piercings, and clothing.

            Then they returned to their classroom for the assignment. Using the written description, each student was to write a story about the individual’s life and personality. Based solely on the brief observation or external traits, the writer was to decide whether he or she was a business person, an artist, a student, a criminal, an addict, good or not, rich or not, humble or conceited.  The person’s life story was to be based on the physical traits the student observed for a few short moments.

            I asked the teenager what she supposed the teacher had hoped the students would learn from this assignment. The teenager concluded that the students would realize that it’s dearly-held stereotypes that shape our rapidly-formed judgments.  That superficial characteristics are not measures of a person’s merit.

            The Lord does not see as mortals see.  It’s easy to see clothing, hairstyles, tattoos, and bodily characteristics, and use them as a way to categorize people.  Looking deeper – to compassion, faithfulness and generosity of spirit – will bring us closer to the way God measures beauty and worth.  God told Samuel:  “Do not look on his appearance or the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16: 7)

            Throughout Biblical history, God has made a point of selecting whoever meets her qualifications for extraordinary work; and sometimes the people were not ones we would have chosen. For instance, the teenage girl whom God chose to be the mother of Jesus was not born into a family of royalty.  And Jesus himself chose ordinary fishermen to be his first disciples.  Remember what matters to God:  “the Lord looks on the heart.”  This is great news for us; God’s good work is waiting for each of us.                

                                                                                    Susan Fast


Texts For Sunday Worship: 
      From the Hebrew Bible          1 Samuel 17: 1a, 3-11, 19-26, 32-50            
      From the Gospels                   Mark 4: 35-41

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share your thoughts on this post in a spirit of love for God, yourself, and each other. All comments are checked before posting. While you may post anonymously, we encourage you to leave your name!