Hear and Know and Taste and See
I’ve been thinking a lot about how we talk about other people (myself included). How we can gossip and be incredibly cruel to one another. Or maybe even worse, how we can (sometimes even unintentionally, but we do it) think of ourselves as better than other people – you know who I’m talking about – people who interrupt our life, smell really bad, won’t stop doing drugs, voted for Trump, homeless people or maybe even your neighbor who talks to you for two hours every time you see them.
We talk about how we, especially middle class people, need to help those who are less fortunate than us. But what if we saw all of this differently. What if we understood people for who they really are.
C.S. Lewis says this in “The Weight of Glory:”
“The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations…Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” (46).
What if we saw each person as the “holiest object presented to our senses?”
I remember when Jeremy first started working at Cup of Cool Water. It took time and intentionality for the kids to trust him. Once they started trusting him, they began to open up – they gave him a “street name” and he began to see who they really are. And I will never forget what Jeremy said to me about these kids: he said that he felt he was seeing a piece of the Kingdom of God that he would not have seen if he wasn’t in relationship with these kids. It wasn’t that Jeremy had something to offer them, it was that he was blessed with the opportunity to see a part of Jesus in them that he wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
What if we had this mentality with every single person we interacted with – believing that the image of God is in each person and praying that we would see these holy people for who they are.
I believe what C.S. Lewis is saying and what Jeremy has experienced at Cup of Cool Water is what discipleship and relationship should look like. It isn’t that someone in a higher class has something to give the other person, it’s that we all have pieces of Jesus that the other person would be blessed to hear and know and taste and see. And this isn’t easy work – like the title of the book, there is a weight to glory – you must get past what you think is “lower or messy or frustrating” and get to the holy goodness inside. This kind of relationship is what I imagine being in relationship with Jesus was like – on the outside, in the flesh, he was a normal man who fell asleep on a boat and cooked fish on the beach but if you were willing to get to the juicy parts of him, you would see the living God and that, my friends, is something worth being in relationship for.