Seeing Beyond

In some of my earlier times that I went to Ecuador, I was getting to know some of the local people in the village where I had helped to fund the church construction. I was having breakfast one morning with an older woman and her young daughter who lived next door to where I was staying. After eating and having an orange juice, I was offered another OJ and gladly accepted. The family had an orchard of orange trees and fresh orange juice was incredible.

So while I had the second glass, the woman started to ask me about what I was going to do as a missionary. She said, “So, aren’t you going to give a teaching to the families when you visit homes? Like, men, you shouldn’t stay out drinking, women, don’t be lazy around the house, kids, you have to obey your parents? The people here need to hear these things.” These happen to be the standard moral corrections that are heard throughout churches in all of rural Latin America.

I said, “Well, when I come here and accept your invitation to eat with you, that’s a teaching. When I have a second glass of OJ, that’s a teaching. When I’m happy to play with your kids, that’s a teaching. And when I always have a smile while I’m here in the village, that’s a teaching. I didn’t come to teach you something new. I came because of what you already have – and I want to see it blossom.”

You know what, I realized that that went against all her religious training from the priests and nuns that had gone before me. I still to this day don’t know if that mother could ever accept that.

But the very fact that I was there in Ecuador, was because I could see past what was lacking and whatever bad behavior might be around, to the good that was there underneath. I wouldn’t have been there in the first place if I didn’t. That’s what love does. It sees beyond what is lacking or bad to the good that is there beneath. Under the lack of this or that or whatever poverty, under whatever bad or offensive behavior, there is a treasure.

The very fact that Jesus became one of us, that he came to be with us, means he sees beyond whatever we lack or whatever bad we do, to the treasure underneath – to who we originally are. Jesus was born because it was time for all people to know that all are forgiven for whatever we haven’t done right or whatever we lack that we should have, that God sees beyond all that to our goodness inside and wants to be with us. The very fact of God being with us means we are forgiven. He wouldn’t be here if we weren’t.

When Jesus is crucified, that is the defining moment of his life. This is where everything about who he is becomes visible. We see his heart, how he sees everything. That he can see beyond an unimaginable rejection and humiliation and torture and death directed right at him, and still want to be with the people who did it all – that is who he is. That he makes his kingdom with the very people who you’d call his worst enemies, that is who he is.

Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Lk 23:34)

God is now always with us. That means that He forgets whatever messed up things you’ve done or do. There are no limits to that. He sees beyond it all to the good treasure you really are a your core. He wouldn’t be here if that weren’t true.

The only thing for us to do is accept it.

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