A few weeks ago, I saw this video about a math teacher whose students consider him a bit strict and maybe crotchety. This was before they discovered something else about him. Go watch the video now if you don't want a spoiler :-) When one of the teacher's students went to a meeting about a blood drive at the local children's hospital, he discovered everyone knew who his teacher was and loved him. Why? Not only is he the top blood donor at the hospital, but he also spends a good deal of his time comforting sick babies, walking with them, feeding them and rocking them. When I shared this on Facebook, I mentioned how students often see their teachers as two-dimensional, thinking we are only what they see when we are at school. But there is so much more to a teacher's life than school.
Really, there is so much more to everyone's life than the static glimpse we usually get. Yet people continually judge other people because they only see one facet of someone's life. This is especially true of any famous figure. We only see an actor on the screen or in select interviews and assume we know him. We only see the politician on the screen or in the news and assume we know him. We only see the sports person on the screen or in the news and think we know him. Thus this judging does extend to our everyday life as well. We only see that driver when he cuts us off, that mother in the grocery store with the crying child, that drunk on the street begging for money. And we assume we have everyone's number--but we don't.
I have always been struck by how Jesus took time with people. He already knew what was in every man and woman, yet we still see him doing things like engaging in conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, spending time in Zacchaeus' home, having dinner with Matthew the tax collector. Jesus was about people. He knew that the people he saw were "distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36).
So we aren't Jesus. We can't read a human heart. How then can we get to know the heart? We must spend time with the person. We have to stop assuming we know someone from one encounter or from afar. You will only know someone if you are willing to hear their stories, listen to their fears and put yourself in their shoes. People aren't two dimensional static pictures. People are multidimensional and complex with experiences and moving lives. And if anyone should take the time to get to know them, it's Christians. We should reflect our own Savior's love for people. He didn't walk this earth seeing people once and brushing them off with a negative thought. He looked and listened and helped and loved. And we should do the same.