“You’re blessed when you get your inside world – your mind and heart – put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. (Matthew 5:8, The Message)
In the film, The Ron Clark Story (2006), Matthew Perry plays native North Carolinian teacher Ron Clark who moves to New York City to teach elementary school. Clark learns quickly that the inner city school system is very different from that in small-town North Carolina. But Clark also learns that the inner city kids need the same love that the small town kids do.
United Methodist minister James Howell reminds us that “many great teachers and heroes, from Gregory of Nyssa in the fourth century to Mother Teresa in the twentieth have taught us that we ‘see God’ in what is not at all invisible: in our neighbor.”
When we truly see our neighbor for who they are, we see God.
In this way, Mr. Clark is a Christ-figure.
No matter the kid, no matter the situation, Mr. Clark shows the same love to everyone. It is a pure love. A love that we are all called to show to everyone! For in loving each other, we love God.
Jim Palmer, in his book Divine Nobodies, he writes about meeting Jesus in the Waffle House waitress, the tire salesman, and the swim teacher, among others. Palmer’s thesis is that when we open our eyes to those around us – children in our classrooms; those serving us at restaurants; those fixing our cars; those sitting in pews next to us – we see a glimpse of Christ.
And we are called, if not commanded, to love as Christ loved.
This is a pure love that comes through holy transformation.
Paul says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2, NRSV). We should heed Paul’s words, and not be conformed to seeing others around us as the world, society, community, others want us to see them.
When we open our eyes to see others as Christ sees them, we are transformed.
In what ways do you need Christ to transform your mind and heart?