Recently, I was in another state to attend the wedding of a family member. I was invited to a bachelor's party of sorts which consisted of going to a business in their area. This business to say the least, was interesting. Now, before our minds wander, it was just a glorified arcade. However, in one section they had stalls where people could throw axes and hatchets at a target on a wall much like someone would with darts. I guess this is a real thing. So, I reluctantly went, and my fears were confirmed. For whatever reason, I could not get the ax to stick in the wall, and by default, I did not score for my team.
I was frustrated as others on these teams who are much smarter than I (they were chemists, scientists, and lawyers) kept mentioning "understanding the physics of throwing it" while I compared my athletic ability to theirs. I figured I had that going for me. However, everyone one of them stuck the ax in the target on the wall while I failed time after time. I had a wrong perspective about their approach versus mine. However, mine did not work while theirs (semi) worked.
What does this have to do with us? I want to discuss the concept of our perspective for a minute. The world says success is a corner office with a great view, or a large house, or lots of money in the bank. Nothing is inherently wrong with any of those. In fact, like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof,
"May the Lord smite me with that curse [wealth and money] and may I never recover."
However, it is not what makes a person valuable. Value is not as easily measured. In Genesis 1:26 the Bible says that God made us in His image. Each and every person with whom we come in contact with was and is made in the image of Almighty God. If they are our annoying neighbor, the collections agent, our pastor, or the person from the other political party, each person has value, and, thus, is worthy of being treated with respect.
In Mark 2:17 Jesus says,
"It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick."
You see, there are those in the area (and everywhere really) that are struggling and hurting. Perhaps they do not look like us, smell like us, vote like us, or behave like society says they should. The answer is not to ignore them. The answer is also not to ostracize them. Finally, the answer is not to placate or trivialize them. We are called to love them, speak the truth to them, and walk alongside them. A doctor's job is not to always make his or her patient happy. His job is to make his patient healthy. Nor should a doctor just ignore the individual. He educates himself and studies to be the best at his profession. Then, the doctor does his best to find the issue and not just treat the symptom.
Friends, as you read this, perhaps you know someone struggling. Perhaps they are or have struggled with substance abuse or alcohol. How many are walking around struggle with depression or mental illness. Perhaps that person is not "just lazy." Perhaps that person is dealing with a form of sickness. I want to encourage you, dear reader, to not judge a book by its cover, as I also won't do. If we do, we will miss our target and live a frustrated life of not understanding why, like I was throwing the axes. Rather, let us look beyond the symptom or the external appearance to meet someone on a heart level.
I recently heard of a couple (with whom I am acquainted) that met a young lady that was pregnant and going through a divorce. This young lady has had problems in the past but is doing all she can to make wise decisions. She found herself with nowhere to go. This couple, that barely knew her, invited her in and have been a God-send to her. I imagine that is something Jesus would do. In fact, He said,
"Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."