Martin Luther King Jr. gave a fantastic message just weeks before he died called The Drum Major Instinct. In it, he gave instructions about what he wanted people to say at his funeral. He said he didn’t want people to talk about his fame or his achievements. He won a Nobel Prize, but it wasn’t that. Just, “Martin Luther King tried to love somebody.”
King is not alone, all of us have tried to love others – with varying levels of success! Treating others in a loving manner is certainly not always easy, but for those of us who claim to follow Jesus, love is both the method and the goal of our lives. In God’s economy nothing is more valuable than love. The journey of our lives is the journey of giving and receiving Love.
Lately I’ve been learning that love starts with our eyes. Our ability and desire to treat others with love depends, at least initially, upon our vision.
On one level, seeing is believing, but the opposite is true as well: believing is seeing. Our perceptions are greatly affected by experiences, education and expectations. Who we are and where we are determines what we will see. To take this is a step further, we generally see what we want to see and don’t see what we don’t want to see. If you don’t believe me, just observe two die-hard fans of opposing NHL teams watching the same instant replay. How can one fan be so sure that a penalty should be called and the other fan be certain that no infraction was made? The answer is simple: We see what we are looking for. Or to put it another way, if we aren’t looking for it, we won’t see it. The old adage says, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But really, everything is isn’t it? We don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.
Some may be tempted to suggest that we need to see things more objectively. To somehow try to strip away all of our bias and attempt to view life purely objectively. However, pure objectivity is neither preferable nor possible. In fact, it is simplistic and often dangerous. It is simplistic because pure objectivity is impossible both theoretically and practically. Even the strictest mathematics and sciences are already partly subjective. The desire for pure objectivity is also dangerous. The human mind and heart are no cameras, our job is not to just open up a lens and objectively drink in reality. Cameras are brute, blind and heartless, and that is what would characterize our relationship with the world if we were truly objective.
The path to treating others well is not found in objectivity, it is found in seeing, feeling and relating through the correct filters, the prism of love. Hugo of St. Victor, a 12th Century theologian, described the Christians view of the world, truth and others in one axiom: Love is the Eye.
We see others as they really are when we see them through the eyes of love. Our task is not to try and meet life without any biases but to meet life with the correct bias, the bias of the eyes of love. Eyes of Love are increasingly essential and unusual in a world that so highly values appearance and competence.
What do we see when Love is the Eye?
→ We see past the surface appearance to the image of our Creator inside each person. Only then will we cherish and not disdain the weak or unlovely.
→ We see value in others, not because of their worth to us, but because of their value to God – who uniquely made them and paid a costly price to redeem them.
With ‘Love as the eye’ fresh possibilities of acting and feeling towards others open up for us. These possibilities enable us to honestly and helpfully will and work for their good – and THAT is love!
“From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” – 2 Corinthians 5:16