We often look at people and judge them by external qualities that our observable to the human eye. While those elements are important to consider, they do not define us.
Much of human conflict these days originates from those initial observations we make and the dangerous stereotypes we can make.
In reality, we are more than our eyes can see. We have flesh, but we have something much more important and enduring than those elements.
16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Christ from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!2 Corinthians 5:16-17
As the Apostle Paul commented on the new life available through Christ, he explained how we ought not to identify anyone from a worldly perspective (5:16). The phrase reads, “from the flesh” (κατὰ σάρκα). With spiritual eyes, we should not reduce people to physical characteristics.
From external features, I can observe someone’s ethnicity, gender, or appearance.
Ethnicity – Skin color is one of the most glaringly apparent traits we notice. Due to possible prejudices or cultural climates, we can judge an individual based on something they have no control over.
Gender – As our culture debates the potential fluidity of someone’s gender, we know the Scriptures to declare that God created both “male and female” (Gen. 1:27). He makes each of us distinct and with a purpose. In some situations, it is more difficult to ascertain the gender of someone at first glance, but in most cases, it is glaringly apparent and encourages our reactions and responses based upon that reality.
Appearance – Within moments, we gather information about someone’s size (we think genes or discipline), status (we make assumptions based on the type of value of clothing), and self-assurance (the attempt or lack thereof of posture and neatness tells us something about the individual).
Our initial observations come from external factors. But beyond what we display on the outside, there is an inner person with a spiritual nature. The flesh won’t stay the same for a lifetime, let alone the transition to eternity. Appearances have a way of distracting us from the real person.
While ethnicity, gender, and appearance tell us something, they don’t tell us everything.
And none of those things disqualify any person in this world from the love of God.
- God loves people from every nation, tribe, people, and language (Rev. 7:9).
- He created and cared for both males and females (Gen. 1:27).
- The lowly ones forgotten by this world due to their presumed inferior status are God’s compassionate concern (Ps. 138:6).
If God interacts with the people of this world based on His spiritual concern rather than external distinctions, then we should also.