Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Eyes That See

Written by: on May 8, 2014

Last week, two of the guys from our leadership team, and myself, attended a one day conference on the local impact of Human Trafficking. For many of the one hundred people in attendance curiosity turned into surprise and then shame by the end of the day. Curiosity because many in attendance wouldn’t have given thought to the fact that Human Trafficking could be a problem in our mid-sized, southwestern Ontario, Canadian city. Surprise set in at the alarming rate of growth of various forms of human trafficking world wide, nationally and locally. Shame as we realized that most of us have contributed either through ignorance or inactivity to address the longstanding causes that have created cultural conditions whereby the injustice and the obscene reality of human trafficking has been allowed to exist in our communities. We left that day in somber contemplation of not what we heard, but how we see. The blame belongs with us. We tend to see what we want to see.

The most glaring example of our guilt is the way in which we have come to view and think about the First Nations people, particularly women and children. As a society we have come to look down upon many of them, keeping ourselves separate from ‘them’, even casting blame upon ‘them’ for what some may perceive as an unequal balance between the societal costs despite a seemingly generosity of government concessions. That’s what we see. But it’s only the surface.

In his book, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Jared Diamond seeks to peel back the layers of what we know as our modern world. He provides a sobering reminder that, while we may celebrate the national achievements and global partnerships of industry and technology, we need to take a step back, lift up a few layers and examine how we have arrived at where we are. Perhaps even more important is the need to consider who we are as a result of all of our advancements.

Despite our historical understanding that the First Nations people were residents in a land that we have only recently come to call home, they have in many cases been pushed to the margins of society. We have trumpeted our advancements as a more significant achievement than honouring people. Rather than viewing all people as equally created by our God, we view them based on their production or function. We see what we want to see, and often we are blinded by the reflection in the mirror rather than being guided by the reflection of Our Maker.

Diamond remarks that, “the striking differences between the long-term histories of peoples of the different continents have been due not to innate differences in the peoples themselves but to differences in their environments. “(p.389) While we may be predisposed to consider success based on innovation, financial gains and the sliding scale of our subjective truth, Diamond reminds us of the great cost that many people in many nations have had to pay in order for a few to enjoy the temporal gains. Through the self-aggrandizement of some over against others based solely on differing scale of productivity we have created generational issues that have become embedded in the foundations of what we celebrate as success.

In John 8:1-11, the courtroom of public opinion is brought to Jesus. Face to face with a woman who was undeniably caught in adultery, the choice of guilt or innocence is placed before him. An answer against her, allows his credibility as The Giver of Grace to be justifiably questioned. An answer in her favour, undeniably places him in opposition with God’s clear truth on these matters. What Jesus writes in the sand, as he stoops beneath their accusatory gazes, remains a mystery to us; whatever it is manages to bring the incarnational spirit of grace and truth together. What we know is that his writing, his question and the lack of the male accomplice, confers unspoken guilt through the crowd of rock-gripping ‘justice’ seekers. They’ve seen what they wanted to see. Then it starts, the sound of rock hitting sand, the shuffling of shameful sandals, as from oldest to youngest they move away. Neither excusing nor condemning, Jesus views the woman not by her most recent actions, but in her created potential and offers her an empowering choice: “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The Creator of her life, bends low, draws near and speaks in clear measured words, not to trumpet his power over a demoralized (and immoral) woman. If anyone was to be viewed with privilege it would Him. If anyone was to be viewed as useless, it was her. Change only became a possibility by his intentionality to allow her to redefine how she saw herself, not in the image of the subjective self-serving standard of those who considered themselves better than her. Rather, by allowing her to see herself through his eyes, as one who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.

We may not be able to rewrite history. But we can take steps to correct some long hidden issues in our society by willingly letting go of our entitlements and helping others to see themselves as God has created them, and then allowing them the freedom to choose how they want to live their lives.

“But the question for our purposes is whether the broad pattern of world history would have been altered significantly if some genius inventor had not been born at a particular place and time. The answer is clear: there has never been any such person. All recognized famous inventors had capable predecessors and successors and made their improvements at a time when society was capable of using their product. As we shall see, the tragedy of the hero who perfected the stamps used for the Phaistos disk was that he or she devised something that the society of the time could not exploit on a large scale. (p.235)”

Grace and Truth is always ready for those who, refuse to wield their privilege but in humility, considers the needs of others before their own. In this way we are granted the privilege of seeing the way Jesus sees.

About the Author

Deve Persad

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