Today in my Current Issues in Urban Mission class we discussed the social and theological reasons for mission. While we spent most of the time discussing the theological foundations for mission I was struck with many thoughts, too many to discuss here. However, one that is particularly sticking with me is the concept of equity in the Kingdom of God. While discussing love, we used the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example. My professor Al's friend, Jeffrey, pointed out that the good Samaritan refused to see the others through the divisive paradigms of the world, but rather saw both himself and the man in need through the eyes of God - the paradigm of the Kingdom. This allowed the Samaritan man to see the need and see the opportunity to love. He was not inhibited by his ethnicity or social norms.
This is really sticking with me because I have lately been pondering the way we perceive others: the way we judge others according to social stratifications, looks, talents, what a person can do for me, etc. Why can't I just see people for the plain human beings they are? In addition to the Samaritan, an example fresh on my mind is that of Prince Myshkin in Fydor Dostoevsky's The Idiot. I just read this book this summer and it has caused me to consider more closely the way Jesus treated other human beings. In the novel, Prince Myshkin displays an unprecedented ability to meet people in their vanity, deceit, greed, and lust, without dehumanizing or judging them! Both Prince Myshkin and the Samaritan man are incredible examples of people who simply treat others as real human beings - not based on any prerequisites, but simply as children of God, a brother or sister in the family of God.
It is not enough to see others as defined by their need or with all the attached stigmas and social classifications. I want to see other human beings as they are: made in the image of God, and so valuable that God would give God's life for them.