Introduction

How do you think God sees us?  How do you see me?  What is the first thing that you notice?  I suppose the question that I am asking here is this:  what is the first thing you see (or notice) when you look at a person?  How much better would things be in our society (and the world) if we viewed each other in the way that God sees us?  I have a new series of sermons that I want to share with all of you.  I feel like the message that I will share with you today speaks to the cries we have seen in our society over the past few weeks.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

KEY VERSE – 1 SAMUEL 16:7

How Do We See Each Other?

This past week was rough.  I suppose I could say that the past few months and years have been that way.  (Rough in the sense of watching people be murdered with little to no justice.)  Last week, in our Sunday school lesson, we looked at what happened to Israel when no man stood for justice and truth.  I tell you, I am shaken in and in sadness by the things we have witnessed recently:  Breonna Taylor murdered while she slept, Ahmaud Arbery murdered in cold blood, and George Floyd murdered in cold blood.

What do you see when you look at me?  My sex: a man.  The color of my skin: brown.  My hair:  usually a low fade but currently nappy because I haven’t gone to the barbershop since March.  This is what we see, right?  We see each other’s features when we look at them.  Some will try and say that they don’t see color, but I’m not sure how that is physically possible unless they are without sight or color blind.

Friend, family, foe

Am I a stranger?  Maybe a friend?  You see, we view each other in other ways as well don’t we.  After we get past our first initial scan of somebody (skin color, facial features, size), we build up in our minds a predetermined view of someone.  Someone once said, “don’t judge a book by its cover” but we are ‘masters’ of that sort of judgment.

We become masters, I suppose, through living.  We build up our stereotypes of people we have never taken time to sit down and talk to.  So, someone may see you for the first time and not see you as harmless, and so they will treat you as an acquaintance or a friend.  Why?  Because of some stereotype they have formed in their mind.  Someone may see you for the first time and determine that there is absolutely nothing friendly about you and view you as a threat.

Women get cat-called and harassed all the time because they are often viewed as a piece of meat.  I suppose this happens to some men as well.  Yet, I tell you today that we are more than this flesh and blood!  We are more than the reflection that we see in the mirror!

How God Sees Us

You see, when God made you and me – mankind – He formed man out of the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7).  Every last one of our physical bodies are made up of elements of our world (Water, Iron, Sodium, Chlorine, and many others).  When God formed the human body out of the dust of the ground, I want to point out that it was not yet alive.

Scripture tells us that the body was not living until God put something inside of that body.  In Genesis, we are told (Gen. 2:7): “And [God] breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man (mankind) became a living soul.” So God breathed His breath of life into the body for that body to become a living being.  This, to me, suggests that our bodies are merely a shell that houses our spirit.

Man ashamed of himself

When Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree in the garden, their physical eyes were opened (Gen. 3:7).  When they turned and saw each other for the first time, what was the first thing they noticed?  They noticed that they were both naked and they were ashamed at their nakedness.  They sewed together some fig leaves to make coverings of themselves.

Again, this points to how we see things.  We will notice what each other is wearing and will mock people to shame for how they look.  (We will mock what they are wearing, the facial features, the size of their body, and their hair.)  People determine who or what a person is by the color of their skin and some choose to discriminate because of one’s skin color. No, all of us do not do this, but it is a lie when someone says they do not see color or don’t pay attention to how people dress.

Someone may ask, why were Adam and Eve ashamed of themselves?  Well, let’s think about this for a brief moment here.  I imagine that both of them were in incredible shape and had great health because all they ate in the garden grew from the trees.  Yet, I would have to imagine that there were some insecurities (shame) that both Adam and Eve had about their nakedness.  All people are insecure about something about themselves.

Many people put a lot of thought into their outer appearance because of these insecurities (or shame).  For example:  we exercise for our health, but some of us also do so because we simply want to look better – there is nothing wrong with this.  Some of us learn to dress a certain way because of how society might judge us; so, we dress cleanly so we do not get confused for being a thug.

When God sees us

Now, I want you to notice something about the Lord’s vision.  When God created Adam and Eve, He did not put them into any type of clothing.  We are told, prior to their sin in the garden (Gen. 2:25), that Adam and Eve were both naked, and that neither was ashamed.  God created them and in the first days of their life, prior to their sin, God left them naked – they had no need for clothes.

Does this say anything about how God sees us?  I believe it does.  You see, Adam and Eve for a short period of time were perfect in the garden; there were no insecurities and there was no shame.  When God looked at Adam and Eve, He simply saw them for who they were!  In other words, the Lord was not concerned with the outer appearance of them!

We see this confirmed in scripture when the Lord visited them in the garden after their sin.  Adam told God that he tried to hide from Him because he was naked, and the Lord responded, “Who told you that you were naked (Gen. 3:8-11)?”  It was not until they sinned in the garden and knew they were naked, that God then provided them with clothing (Gen. 3:21).

Looking at the heart

Did God do this because He was now concerned about the outer appearance of man?  Absolutely not!  I believe that Adam and Eve, before their sin, had some form of glory about them in their nakedness; they did not need any covering.  Yet, when they sinned in the garden, that light was removed from them and they became sin.  This body, this shell of ours became a prison for our soul — our body decays over time no matter how much we try to keep it up.

God simply provided a covering for these shells to cover up the shame.  Spiritually speaking, we still need a covering to go and stand before the Lord today because of our sins.  When God sees us, He does not see our outer appearance. God still sees that breath of life (our spirit) that was breathed into this shell.  This is what is being said in the key verse for today’s sermon.

How Much Better Would Things Be

No, it is us – mankind – who still make a very big deal about our outer appearance to this day.  I do not believe God created us to be that way.  Let’s remember that those two were essentially blind to those things in the garden prior to their sin.  Notice that scripture does not record the race of Adam and Eve, nor their height, nor the kind of hair that they had.  No, the concern for the outer appearance are the things we bring to the table in our own way of judgment!

All this week, I have been preparing a new series of sermons to preach about the special thing that God put inside of all of us – our spirits.  Little did I realize how long and how hellish this week would be; the results coming from how we feel we are treated because our skin is a beautiful shade of chocolate.  How absolutely disgusting of a thing is it that people can claim God but not treat one another with the love of a brother and a sister.

Respect others

How much better would things be in our society (and even around the world) if we were to see one another the same way that God sees us?  Yes, I want you to see that I am a black man!  As James Brown said, I’m black and I’m proud!  I want you to see that I am Black but I want you to also treat me with the respect of being created by God!  I am more than my outer shell – I am a spirit just like you are a spirit!  Why can’t we look at one another that way?

I know for certain that things in our society would be a great deal better if we could one day just get beyond our outer appearance.  Now, don’t take me for being some naive idealistic fool, because I am not one.  Yet, I am a dreamer and my hope still remains that we can grow to be a people that learn to look at one another the same way that God does.  

I believe it will take a great deal of maturing to do this and as the proverb says, “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed.”  We may get there one day as mankind.  One day, we may learn to love one another as brothers and sisters in the one and true spirit of God.