By DANNY MINTON
Growing up, the kids in our neighborhood and probably most neighborhoods in the fifties played “Cowboys and Indians.” The Indians were always the bad guys. This picture is what we saw when we went to the movies or read most of the western comic books. That was the mindset most boys grew up around.
Then, as an adult, I read “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.” The chapters of this book one after another awakened my mind to another side of the story. As I read it, I thought of a line from the movie “The Jim Thorpe Story,” when “Little Boy Who Walked Like Bear,” made a statement similar to, “How come when white man win battle it great victory? When Indian win it massacre?”
When I look back at my youth, I see the fifties and sixties as great times to grow up. I have a lot of fond memories of school, football, friends and the great times we had together. Other groups, however, had a different view. You see, I’m considered “white” and the fifties and sixties were full of more turmoil for those whose skin was a different color. We lived in the same world, yet different. I read another book, “Black Like Me,” that opened my eyes to how people are treated so differently simply because the pigment in their skin is different.
There are always two sides to the story. In today’s world, we are quick to judge based only on one side. This is evident especially in the world of politics. The media gives one side of the story and rarely presents the entire scenario. People pick up on one quote or one action and make a complete judgment on an individual or group. We become quick to judge without bothering to sit back and consider all the facts, the whys, and the reasons something may have been said or done. In our world of social media and technology it’s easy to pinpoint part of a picture or saying and post it as “the whole truth and nothing but the truth!” It is then passed on by others, and judgments are made based on something that does not relate the entire story.
In his “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus taught “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV2011) He warns us that our judgment will be based on how we judge others. This should make us stop and think even about the little things we judge about others each day of our lives.
A woman almost always comes in late to my Bible study. Those that don’t know her may judge her action of always coming in late. Those of us who do know her know that she is the caregiver for a husband who was a stroke victim. A man sits by himself on Sunday morning, not getting up and visiting unless talked to first, then it is short. One might think he is unfriendly. Those of us who know him realize he’s lost two sons recently and his wife is in a facility for Alzheimer patients. At the drop of a hat today, people are called bigots, racists, prejudiced, insensitive or hateful. Actions are interpreted judgmentally without even knowing the reason someone said or did what took place.
It’s time we stopped looking at people based on color or nationality. It’s time we quit making judgments based on where they live or if they are Democrat or Republican or some other political group. It’s time we quit judging people simply because they go to a different place of worship. It’s time to quit judging people by how they dress, where they work, or whether they are rich, poor, or somewhere in between.
It is time we start looking at people as people. It’s time to start seeing the world through the eyes of Jesus instead of our own. Ours can become clouded with the prejudices that we all have whether we like it or not. Jesus sees things much clearer.
Several years ago, I had cataract surgery. The surgery on my left eye was perfect, giving me the clearest vision I hadn’t enjoyed in years. My right eye was great at first, then my retina got a little tear, and now it is partially cloudy with floaters. When I look at the world through my left eye it is now clear with fine distinction. However, when I see things through my right eye they are still a little hazy, having to deal with the floaters and cloudiness. When we see the world through the eyes of Jesus we can see a clearer world and people for who they are, just people like us with good and bad points. When we look through our eyes it’s easy to become cloudy with issues that we have to deal with that keep us from seeing them clearly.
Jesus added one more comment about judging. He reminds us that none of us are perfect. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV2011)
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ.