How do we "see" our neighbor?

Written by Stephanie Bowman, Associate Chaplain, Felician Village Mission Department

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus tells a story about a man who is attacked by robbers and left for dead on the side of the road. Three people pass by this injured man and see him lying there. A priest and a Levite both saw the man but crossed over to the other side of the road to avoid him.

Next, a Samaritan saw the man, but instead of crossing the road, he was moved with compassion to stop and help him. The surprising element in this story is that the people who would have been expected to stop and help the man (the priest and the Levite, both church workers) did not, and the Samaritan (who would not have been expected to stop) did stop to help.

All three of these people saw the same thing; they all saw an injured man in the road. Yet it seems they saw the man differently. We all have individual lenses that impact the way we see others: our culture, family upbringing, morals, and values all impact how we see. These lenses create biases for us and everyone has them. Yet, if we work to understand our biases and become more aware of the blind spots these biases create, we can become better at seeing as God sees.

How does God see us? In the creation story God said, “Let us create mankind in our image.” When God looks at humankind, God sees through eyes of love and sees all people as beloved children. Why was the Samaritan moved with compassion to help the injured man when the priest and the Levite were not? Perhaps he was seeing this man as God saw him—a beloved child of God. Seeing our neighbor through eyes of love, as God sees them, is the first step in becoming a better neighbor. May God grant us a better awareness of our biases and give us the vision to see others as beloved children of God.

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