“Say something you like about the speech, then offer one suggestion for improvement.” Those are the instructions I give my Public Speaking students when I ask them to critique each other’s presentations. The feedback not only helps the speakers improve, but it also forces us listeners to intentionally look for the good. Something I need to practice more outside of the classroom….
I can’t remember when I didn’t believe every person’s dignity stems from the fact he or she is created in the image of God. All persons—no matter who we are or where we come from—bear the distinct mark of our Creator. Even though I know this, I don’t always look at others through that lens. It’s like I develop spiritual cataracts.
Physical cataracts cloud the normally clear lens of a person’s eye. People with cataracts feel like they’re looking through foggy windows. As the cataracts grow, their environment becomes more and more blurred until surgery is required to keep them from losing their vision altogether.
Spiritual cataracts block us from seeing the intrinsic worth of others. We focus on the sin that mars the image of God rather than the image that marks them as his child.
Jesus had neither physical nor spiritual cataracts. Nothing marred his vision from seeing his Father’s thumbprint on each person and calling it out. Within the volatile Peter, Jesus identified a “rock” (Matthew 16:8). In the prejudiced can-anything-good-come-out-of-Nazareth Nathaniel, Jesus perceived “an Israelite without guile” (John 1:46-47). Beneath the proudly labeled Pharisees of Pharisees, Jesus knew there hid a man who would eventually refer to himself as the “very least of the saints” (Ephesians 3:8). Jesus refused to let people’s flaws and weaknesses cloud who they were meant to be.
I believe he wants us to view others as he did. To intentionally look for the good, for the image of God they bear no matter how hidden it might be. We may need to undergo some spiritual cataract surgery to make this happen, but interestingly, as our cataracts are removed, fuzzy thoughts about our own worth begin to clear up as well.
You and I are marked with the image of God. That’s a critique we can live with….