Someone has noted that we see others not as they are but as we are. The apostle Paul is writing to the mature spiritual leaders of Corinth and now to us when he confesses, “From now on we regard no one from a human point of view.” The churches of the first century were always tempted to define themselves by human categories—Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. (See Galatians 3:28.) We are not so different. And indeed we are shaped by country of origin, class, gender, race, age, politics, language. Our individual identity should not and cannot be suppressed.
Yet Paul calls us to see one another in a different way. To say that “from now on we regard no one from a human point of view” is to see the image of God in one another, to acknowledge the sacred worth of the other, to view that person not as a stranger or enemy but as a brother or sister.
Our identity is a part of this sacredness, and yet it can become the very way we are separated from one another and the very cause of our willingness to do harm to one another.
Once we regarded Christ from a human point of view, Paul notes, but no longer. The crucified Jesus has been raised from the dead; God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself (v. 19). What was separated is now united. And there is now a new creation in Christ. The old has passed away, and everything has become new. What passes away are our mindsets, our assumptions, our prejudices, our stereotypes. These realities are deeply embedded within each of us, and their death is painful. But out of death there is resurrection and a new creation. There is one new humanity in place of the two. (See Ephesians 2.) To be converted is to see all things with a transformed vision.
Lord Jesus Christ, light of the world, open our eyes to see you present in each person we encounter today. Amen.
From a human perspective, we tend to judge people by appearances: how attractive they are, how wealthy they seem to be. God’s standard, however, is not outward appearance but the attitude of the heart. David was the youngest brother in his family, but God knew his mighty heart and chose him as the next king of Israel. The psalmist declares that God gives victory to those who put their trust in God, not in the outward appearance of might. Jesus reinforces this truth with the parable of the mustard seed. Paul tells the Corinthians that we should no longer judge by what we see on the outside, for God changes what really matters—what is on the inside.
Read 1 Samuel 15:34–16:13. When have outward appearances prevented you from seeing someone’s value as a child of God?
Read Psalm 20. How do you discern whether your “heart’s desire” is in line with what God wants for your life?
Read 2 Corinthians 5:6-17. In what ways are you “urged on” by the love of Christ? How do you behave differently because you know Christ’s love?
Read Mark 4:26-34. When have you seen God make much of a small gift that you offered?
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