Have you ever had someone draw a caricature picture of you? Usually at tourist traps or carnivals, you can pay an artist to do this. Generally, what happens is: they take your most prominent features and exaggerate them out of proportion, into something that is usually comical.
I was pondering the all-to-common vitriol these days being expressed against/about pretty much anyone and everyone. Someone’s doing this, and someone doesn’t like it. Or, this group says x, and this other group is offended. So, we blast off on them (usually on social media), and tell the world why our opinion is right and that person/group is wrong.
I mean, I’m glad we have a culture that values our ability to express ourselves freely. However, I’m concerned that it seems that often our responses, based on our “well-informed opinions”, are usually more like caricatures of those involved. We base our opinions/views and many times, our actions, on an overblown exaggeration of certain features. In other words, we’re not even responding to a reality. We are reacting to a caricature that has been drawn for us. And, it’s not really that funny.
If we actually took the time to look someone in the face, and know them, things would be quite different. We still may not find ourselves agreeing with them and their point of view. But, sometimes it we too a minute to look into the face of the one in front of us, or the group in question, it can change everything. Sometimes, even release a miraculous power.
That’s what struck me as I was reading the account of Peter entering the Temple in Acts 3. It tells us of a man who was crippled and brought daily, for years, to beg at the entrance of the Temple. How many times had Peter walked by him while entering the Temple in the days, or even years, previous? On this day, however, Peter stopped to look at the man. And then said to him, in essence, “Look at me”. And, in that moment, every thing changed. For both of them, I believe. Check it:
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. [Acts 3:1-10]
Not only did this change the man (once crippled, now healed!), it impacted EVERYONE! What changed everything and everyone? One simple moment: actually stopping the normal routine to look straight at one another, and actually see the other person. Yes, it’s a PERSON there in front of you. One who bears the image of God. One of infinite worth and value. You may not agree with them, but see them for who they are, not the caricature that others may draw them to be. Maybe they are broken. Maybe they need some change… even a miracle. Can you look beyond the broken exterior and take hold of something beyond yourself — Jesus — and love them enough to apply His power and His name to them and their situation? It could change something. It could change you. It could change everything.
If you’re a believer in Jesus, I’d love for you to join me in this journey. Let’s not just walk through life, looking at caricatures drawn by others, but stopping to look and see the reality of those around us. And then, though we may feel weak, powerless and empty pocketed, let’s take hold of the vast treasure we DO have — Jesus, and see what HE will do in the lives of those who are in desperate need. Jesus is what we all really need! He always stops for that one. And, He never leaves them the same.