I See You
I must openly confess that I resisted the desire to see the movie “Avatar”. Of course the last movie I saw in a theatre was “The Passion of the Christ” so I had to wait until it was on television. And so I watched what was reported to be the largest grossing movie in history and what some pastors called “unchristian”. Of course if we are to use the label unchristian we can attach it to everything from the “Wizard of Oz” to “A Christmas Carol” all the way to much of Disney. Christmas itself is “unchristian” and so probably is ice cream as well. We live in a world that is decidedly “unchristian” and everything is fallen.
Anyway the story is compelling as it showcases the inhumanity of man, the folklore religion of the natives, and an interracial love story. But the indigenous people called the Na’vi had a greeting. Perhaps a little more than greeting. They would say “I see you”. Now the fictional Na’vi people said that this phrase meant more than just eyesight; it meant that you could see into a person and understand them. I was reminded of Paul’s statements to the Church at Corinth.
II Cor.5:15-17 - And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
16. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
17. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
We quote that 17th verse much more than the previous two, and usually we have come to believe it means shedding some of the outward sins that we practiced before we came to faith in Jesus Christ. I am sure that verse includes those sins, but if we are to take the verses in context the Spirit is guiding us into a startling and incredible truth that is not only overlooked, but is at the very heart of reflecting the Person of Jesus Christ.
The 15th verse exhorts us to sacrifice our own lives and live a life unto Christ. And at the core of living a life for him is living a life for others. This is usually translated as a life that is associated to and loyal to a local, organized assembly of professing believers. Giving and supporting the activities of a local church is considered being “committed”. The western culture loves to compartmentalize everything and the believers living in this culture have adopted this kind of myopic definition of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus the Christ.
But stepping away from the force fed definitions, let us more closely examine what the Spirit teaches rather than what man has constructed. The 16th verse is an extremely penetrating truth. What does Paul mean that he no longer knows and sees men in the flesh? Notice he says that we have known Christ in the flesh but now no more. He is obviously speaking of the Spirit. We know Jesus Christ in the Spirit and it is impossible to know Him without the Spirit. To know Christ through the Spirit is to actually know Him experientially and in a way that the flesh cannot understand. This is the faith once delivered unto the saints.
But now that we know Him in the Spirit, Paul says he no longer knows fellow humans in the flesh. What? This is the path of discipleship. We concentrate on all sorts of outward things. We command believers to give up smoking and drinking and inappropriate entertainments, and there is a place for those exhortations. But it seems we have missed the essence of what it means to be a follower, an imitator, of the Lord Christ.
We chronically see others in the flesh and not the Spirit. To see others in the Spirit is to see them from the perspective of the cross. And that is to see them through the eyes of the Lamb of God. So often we see their sins and not their soul. The words “I see you” in the science fiction story were meant to proclaim that you really saw that person inside. All their needs, all their hurts, all their wounds, and all their fears were seen by you. I was once a lost sinner who was boisterous and arrogant, but inside I was fearful and in desperate need of hope.
To lead a committed life is to lead of life dedicated to others. Jesus came to Bethlehem for others, not Himself. Are you willing to eat with demonstrably gay people? Are you willing to love those who remain behind bars because they were so violent? Are you willing to love the abortion doctor? Do you see these people in the flesh or in the Spirit? Do you see them at the Great White Throne judgment or do you see them at Calvary? Do you feel negative emotions toward “liberals” or does your heart beat with redemption toward them?
The American pulpits continue to thunder down judgment and division, but refuse to see people who they really are in God’s eyes. There will be time for judgment, but that is in God’s hands. We are vessels of redemption’s light that are sent to illuminate the souls who dwell in darkness. The next time you see someone on television who affects you negatively, or someone who mistreats you in the mall, or even a lost family member who disrespects and demeans you, remember the words of the Apostle Paul. Look at them through the eyes of the Redeemer and say within your soul,
“I see you”.