February 11, 2019

Personal perspectives affect our lives . . .

Years ago, a truck driver asked me to help him with his resume. His back was sore all the time and he needed a new job. He told me “I’m not educated or skilled and my resume is boring.” I asked him many questions about his life, interests, volunteer work and other detail then wrote the resume. He read it and said, “I cannot believe how good I look in this — yet everything is true!”

Some people belittle their accomplishments. Others make assumptions about the lives of other people. If a person does not tell others what they do, they are often pegged as people who don’t do much. A couple years ago a new friend came to my home for a visit. She liked my art, quilts and other creative projects and said, “I’m amazed. I thought you were just an ordinary person.” Despite her new opinion, I told her she was right — I am just an ordinary person.

That incident helped me take greater notice of others and my understanding has deepened — there are no ordinary people. Everyone has a story, a skill, a something that is significant. Most don’t want to boast or do not even recognize their own uniqueness. In some cases, those around them do not want to recognize it either.
And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief . . .  (Mark 6:2–6)
Jesus was in His hometown of Nazareth. The people knew Him as part of a local family. To them, He was nothing special growing up before them, so why now is He teaching in the synagogue? What right does He have to do this? They were offended by this ‘ordinary’ person and He was amazed at their rejection.

This part of Mark’s Gospel happened during Jesus’ second visit to Galilee. He’d been there once, performed miracles and told parables. They saw and heard Him yet they were confused. How could an ordinary person, at least ordinary in their mind, do what He was doing?

This narrative about Jesus’ life makes me think of roadblocks created by the opinions of others. If a person is bothered by them, it will affect their lives. In this case, when these people rejected Jesus, He didn’t do any “mighty work” there. His ministry was limited because of their perception of Him.

My truck driver friend had similar limitations but not for the same reasons. His perception of himself kept him from applying for jobs that He was qualified for. He needed to see himself differently. My relationships with people are also affected by what they assume about me. Some assumptions are based on observation, an ordinary childhood, mistakes made, and maybe an unfair evaluation that thinks people are special only if they are exceptional in something, child prodigies, or have double PhDs or a wall full of ribbons.

Jesus was amazed at the way people responded to Him. He who is without sin would not have that notion that ‘ordinary’ people could be useless, boring, or without skill. Instead, He saw the full person, sinful yet created in the image of God and full of potential. All they needed was redemption and the Holy Spirit and they would be able to do anything.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)
Lord, grant me the ability to see people like You see us, realizing the sin that ruins lives but also aware of the great potential that others have because of Your grace and power. Help me be a supporter and an encourager. Give me ideas and ways to bring out the best in others . . . as You do!

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