Points to Ponder: What We Look for in Others We May See in Ourselves
Points to Ponder
What We Look for in Others We May See in Ourselves
My high school in South Baltimore had as its claim to fame the fact that Major League baseball player Al Kaline had graduated from there. My dad was not impressed with that nor excited about my attending there. He called it a "dummy school." I thought his insulting opinion was rather harsh; until my senior year.
I was part of a group that had completed training for the peer counseling program. I felt it was not adequate and went to the senior class counselor to discuss my misgivings. She responded dismissively that if I didn't have confidence in myself, then I should just quit. But that wasn't the issue, and every time I tried to clarify myself, she fired back with an increasingly condescending tone about my doubts about myself. Having recently submitted an essay for a scholarship contest, which was turned in to her, she abruptly ended our discussion with a parting reference to my work. Dismissing my concerns about the counseling training, she added "and you have absolutely NO writing talent whatsoever." Whoa!
I was taught to respect my elders, even if they were idiots, but my father's assessment of my high school came to my mind in that moment. In this woman's verbal jabs at me, I could see his reasoning. I then responded to her,
"Mrs. ___________, it's because of people like you that Southern High is the school it is today."
With that she threw me out of her office and refused to be my counselor in all matters. For this I was grateful and was envied by others.
Word about the encounter spread quickly. Some of the teachers seemed pleased with me, as if I'd done something they could never have done themselves. By what was said, and left unsaid, I got the impression that her colleagues had a low opinion of her. But the athletic director, Mr. Fieldman, didn't go there.
He was a stocky tough-looking guy. The school mascot was the bulldog and he bore a close resemblance. In the field and in the gym he ran a tight ship, commanded respect, and was no-nonsense in his dealing with students. I worked as an aide in his office. When word got to him of the incident, he sat me down and spoke softly and with a gentleness of tone most kids never experienced.
He looked me in the eye and, upon recalling all that had transpired between the counselor and me, he said, "Dennis, you have to look for the Christ in everyone." This was profoundly deep. I didn't want to slip and say, "Huh?"
"Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive" (Proverbs 17:28).
Every time I see in a newspaper something I have written, I think about that dear woman. How many kids are crushed by the words of a loose cannon in a leadership position? Thankfully I had considered the source and actually have found her words to be motivating.
But then there's Mr. Fieldman's deep words. I was not a Christian then, but now that I am, I have often plumbed the depths of those words:
"You have to see the Christ in everyone."
In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus says that whatever you do, or do not do, to the "least of these My brethren, you have done it (or not done it) to Me."
In the Gospel of John, He says to Philip, who asked Him to show them the Father, "he who has seen Me has seen the Father." What was I to look for in this nasty woman; what resembled Christ? From "the least of these" to "the Father," offers quite a range. What is it that abides in everyone that, if we look carefully, will be Christ? "The Christ in everyone" is so universal and vague and yet when sought for in the soul of another, what comes forth specifically as Him?
In the nice guy who lends a hand, to the meanie on the highway who cuts you off; from the kindest person you know to the hardened criminal doing a life sentence in prison, "Look for the Christ in everyone." As I ponder it, perhaps the confusion is this: what I see in another reveals more about me than about them. The more intentional I am about seeing the Christ in the other person may show me how much - or how little - of Him is abiding in me.
"For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen . . . For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer" (Romans 11:36 . . . II Corinthians 5:14-16).
I must first be clear on the perspective from which I am looking a person. As I regard Christ in His higher place, He lifts me up to see in another what He is seeing. It may only be a glimpse or even a sense of empathy in the midst of my disgust. But as I seek Him in another, perhaps I will see that He is there waiting to be found by that person and by me.
As Pascal said of God, "You would not be seeking Me unless I had already found you."
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, of Clear Spring, MD. These articles are also found at www.HilltopChristianFellowship.com