I have to retrain the way I see people. Allow me to explain…
Church, as I have known it for the majority of my life, has had a bad outlook on humanity at large. From a spiritual standpoint, we would argue the “depravity” of mankind as evidenced by our observations of society. The world is full of sin, crime, hate, and immorality. To be sure, Scripture supports that condition of the world. But what is so startling, is that according to the Gospel that Jesus-freaks like me claim to believe, God loves this world. Not to say that He loves what this world is doing to itself, but He nonetheless loves “the world.” Every stranger to me, every rude person in traffic, every loud mouth in the checkout line ahead of me wasting my time, every adulterer, liar, white-collar criminal, religious hypocrite, drunkard, and promiscuous teenager is a soul that God values.
Counter to what some Bible “scholars” may state, there is something in humanity that God loves, desires, and finds good in. Genesis 1:26 tells us that God created man “in His image,” and despite the sin, rebellion, and brokenness of our planet, God finds something good in each human being simply because we bear His image. Marred, muddied, and cracked as it may be, we resemble our Creator. While no amount of noble attempts can change our eternal destination apart from Christ, there are moments of good in human beings: charities to cure disease and provide sustenance, strangers helping strangers, even little courtesies hint of the moral conscience imbued to man by their Creator. And sinful and broken as man may be, God finds pleasure in cleansing, restoring, and remaking His fallen creation into the image of His Son.
On a personal level, what does that mean for me and you? Do I tolerate all of the “miserable sinners” that make up my world? Or do I see inside of each stranger that I encounter the image of their Creator who loves them beyond human comprehension? Do I maintain an us/them mentality to the world? Or do I realize that according to Ephesians 2:1-5 that I am the same as them apart from Christ?
When I choose to see the image of God in every person, I am better enabled to love them like Christ loves them. And my ability to share the Gospel, and effectiveness in doing so increases. We often say that we want to see people the God sees them… so why don’t we?