“When we seek to know someone it is very important to learn to look at them with the incomparable greatness with which Jesus sees them.”

The modern church is asking itself an important question in the context of unity. The question is: What are the biggest obstacles to forming deep, cross-cultural relationships in a multicultural church? Seeking to answer this question biblically and honestly is based on a deep desire to see the unification of the body of Christ in all its social, cultural, and economic diversity. These answers will focus primarily on identifying secular ideologies that have infiltrated the church and on replacing them with the loving truth of God.

The way humanity tends to look at God and at each other has been impaired. The way we perceive our fellow humans has been distorted. We consistently seek to serve ourselves at the expense of others. This way of looking at each other, has unfortunately infiltrated the church also. So, the question before us is, how do we start looking at others the way God wants?

In Philippians 2:1-8 we have the source for doing this. Here we learn how to look at others with love. Here the apostle Paul compares the dynamics of the relationship between Jesus and God. Paul tells us that Jesus, although he was God, “did not consider being equal to God as something to cling to.” Jesus is God, but in his love for his father and for us, he set aside his equal status as God. Jesus makes clear that equality is no longer the basis for loving one another and by His example He introduces a new paradigm that provides a better starting platform to loving others well. This new stage becomes the point from which we begin to look to others as having more value than us. 

When we seek to know someone it is very important to learn to look at them with the incomparable greatness with which Jesus sees them. In my own life I have been able to observe how my deceptive heart tends to look at my neighbor. As a result, when I meet a person for the first time, I have three different ways that I can look at my brother or sister.

Option 1: Looking at my neighbor as an object of interest.

This first way of looking at my neighbor is based on the creation of a series of categories, evaluations, and mechanisms that allow me to quickly know a person. Unfortunately, these same tools easily put me in a position of comparison. When I see that I have more knowledge, more social status, and more material possessions, it is easy to conclude that I am superior to my neighbor. This causes me to look at my neighbor as someone who is less than me resulting on my objectifying him or her and our relationship. As I have evaluated that this person is not of any interest to me, then I no longer look to know him or her more. 

If what motivates me to know my neighbor is only to take advantage of the relationship we have, then sooner or later this relationship will end in separation. It will end when my neighbor realizes that I am only using him or her. This will be the ultimate result of looking at him or her through the atrophied eyes of my own personal intentions.

Option 2: Looking at my neighbor as equal.

I know that seeing my neighbor as an object of interest is not fair or right; then my look changes and I try to start seeing my neighbor just like me. This makes me feel better about my dealings with my neighbor, because now we are equal and we both have the same rights. But this is not quite what Paul teaches here either. 

Having the same rights, having the same equality of voice, and having equal access to a happy life cannot give us the unity we desire. The highest ideal of Western thinking is equality, but Paul here rejects equality as the basis of loving one another. Jesus in Luke 6:32 says the same thing, “If you love those who love you, what merit do you have? For sinners also love those who love them.” Jesus clarifies here that love rooted in equality is not such a great and noble ideal. This verse also warns that this way of targeted love will only result in loving people who have the same interests and tendencies as us. Looking at my neighbor as my equal will result in looking for those who are just like me. The benefit that this equality offers cannot cross onto the other side of the diverse skin colors, social statuses, and cultural backgrounds. 

The reciprocity of equality is the world’s answer for unity that has never worked. Communism also continues to seek the answer to unity in this idea of equality and continues to fail. The invitation of Jesus is exactly the opposite, it is to love those who are very different than us also. We know that all believers are of equal value before God, but true love does not stop there, because the goal of true love is not to treat others as equal but to treat them as better. With this corrective, Jesus begins to reorient our way of looking at our brothers and sisters.

Option 3: Looking at my neighbor as incomparably better.

Jesus presents a new way to look at others. This way of seeing always seeks to look at the surpassing worth of the neighbor first. This means looking with a new fresh set of eyes at the great value that my neighbor has because he was created by God in his likeness.

Jesus and God are of equal value, honor, and praise, but Jesus chose not to cling to that equality. Instead, He humbled himself for the love of His father and us. In the same way, God sees us all of equal value, but we are called to humble ourselves before one another in love. Jesus, as fully human, could have looked at us as peers, as equals, but He did not look at us like that. Jesus recognized the great worth that the love of God had bestowed onto us. Intrinsically Jesus is of greater value than us. He is God. But in his loving humble posture he regarded us more significant than Himself. If Jesus had looked upon Himself as equal to believers, then perhaps He would not have died for us. Jesus, while knowing who He was, still considered us more valuable than Himself and proved this fact by dying on the cross. Jesus is our great example and encouragement of how to look properly with love at each other.

My desire is to invite every believer to see in the same way that Jesus sees us and to exhort all of us to recognize the incomparable value we have for God in Christ Jesus. As our way of looking continues to improve, we will be able to love our neighbor in a more sincere way and we will be surprised by the unity that Jesus designed us to have with each other in our multicultural, multiethnic, multilingual church.

José González

José serves Cornerstone by overseeing the Spanish language ministry “Nueva Vida Ministerios”.

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