Republicans, Liberals, Americans, Blacks, Presbyterians, Catholics, the 2%. Our culture is plagued with viewing others through categories. And although labels might help us put people into nice neat boxes, they all too often blind us to seeing people as individuals. But Jesus never did that….
Consider when He traveled through Samaria and met the woman at the well. Local custom dictated that he would have ignored her. Would have written her off because she was both a Samaritan and a woman (a sinful one at that). But he didn’t. He looked deeper and discovered one unique personality who was thirsting for true life. She just didn’t know it. He met her with precision and compassion: “He told me everything I ever did” (John 4:28). It was enough. It was so much enough that her single testimony reached the whole town—“and many more became believers.”
From Samaria, Jesus traveled on to Galilee. He knew the folks there only welcomed him because they wanted to see a miracle. Not what we would consider a noble people-group. Sure enough, right off the bat, an official came to Jesus and asked that he heal his dying son. In spite of the spirit of the town, Jesus spoke the word of healing to this solitary man and his son recovered (John 4:43-53).
What a God who looks beyond our cultural surroundings and treats us as individuals! Truth came and met the immoral woman. It embraced the grief-stricken father. And of course we can’t forget the worst infidel of all, the tree-climbing, tax-cheating, hated-by-everyone Zacchaeus. Hated by everyone, that is, except Jesus, who asked him to dinner (Luke 19). Truth plucked each of them out of their respective crowds and said I know you.
He knows you, too. He looks beyond every label you carry. Past how everyone else views you—whether they admire you or despise you. Whether they are drawn to you or reject you. He doesn’t treat you exactly the same as he does the person next to you; he understands what makes you, well…you.
There are few things in life more precious than being known. Maybe Jesus wants us to start looking past the labels and see people like he did. Maybe he wants us to recognize that there’s a you—a unique, hand-crafted individual—living behind all those outward identifiers. Maybe it would cause some walls to fall….