I have the opportunity here to talk to lots of people. Lots of people. Every day. Every week. People in my study. People in the hallways between Bible class and worship. People on the phone. People in the parking lot. Every day.
Some people come by to encourage me. Some are here to complain. Some are cheerful. Some are grumpy. Some come to confess. To question. To praise. To get advice. To give advice. Some people are hurt. Some just come by to hang out.
What I must remember is that every single person I run in to — without exception — is a person created by our God, made in the image of our God, for our God’s purposes. They are all, each one of them, a child of our Father. And I must approach every single interaction with these people with that specific mindset.
Eugene Peterson, in his outstanding book Working the Angles, says we have to view every one of these meetings — planned or chance, positive or negative — as a great privilege.
“This face before me, its loveliness scored with stress, is in the image of God. This fidgety and slouching body that I am looking at is a temple of the Holy Ghost. This awkward, slightly asymmetrical assemblage of legs and arms, ears and mouth, is part of the body of Christ. Am I ready to be amazed at what God hath wrought, or am I industriously absorbed in pigeon-holing my observations?
The significance of what I see before me is not what I see before me but what Christ has said and done. Far more relevant than what I feel or think, or what this person feels or thinks, is what Christ has said and done. This is a person for whom Christ died, a person he loves: an awesome fact! Am I prepared to admire? Am I prepared to respect? Am I prepared to be in reverence?
Every meeting with another person is a privilege. In pastoral conversation I have chances that many never get as easily or as frequently — chances to spy out suppressed glory, ignored blessing, forgotten grace. I had better not miss them.”