I have been thinking about how best to describe this. In my experience as a Chaplain, I have learned a few things about human nature. I find that people exist on three levels, or depths. Since I work in a healthcare setting, I find these three depths more pronounced that they might be under normal circumstances, so the seams are more obvious.
First, each person has a level of physicality, a dimension of their being that relies solely on what they can see, hear, taste, smell and touch. It is a reality that exists within the scope of their flesh, and the needs of their body. Basic needs like hunger and thirst, pain and pleasure, all manifest themselves in the body, and affect the mood in different ways. A person who arrives in physical pain can be very irritable, even angry. But when the physical pain is answered with chemicals, like pain-killers, their mood lightens. When hunger is met with food, the outlook brightens. Dealing with the physical self is actually the easiest of the three. And once you understand that it is only the physical self that is manifesting these bad behaviors, then you have an easier time of dealing with such a person. It’s not personal. They are just hungry. They’re just experiencing pain.
The second level is a bit more profound. This is the level of their mental being. It is much harder to find the causes and problems associated with this level, because it can only be discovered through language. You must talk and listen to the person to discover their mental state, to discover what pain and suffering they are enduring by what they say, and even how they say it. The most basic of these is body language, that use of the body to express mental condition. A body in a defensive posture (arms folded, legs crossed) points to a need to defend oneself from something, or someone who feels uncomfortable, or doesn’t agree with you. A body in an open posture (arms wife, legs splayed) is a mind that is open and receptive. But there are subtleties even here that only experience will tease out. But the mind is host to all sorts of needs, wants, desires that are always working, always flowing just underneath the surface of the body.
But the third, the spirit, is the most difficult to understand and reach. For below the flow of body and mind is the spirit, a moral compass (or lack thereof), a conscience that is either affirming or accusing. Here there is either peace (that comes from God) or an incessant stream of guilt. The level of the spirit can either be a place filled with light and grace, or a dark hollow place in the pit of the stomach. However, those whose spirits are filled with grace from peace with God tend to allow their spirits freer flow in their lives, while those whose spirits are guilt-ridden tend to bottle it up out of sight.
This is where today’s text comes into play. To reach that level of spirit, love must extend not just to the flesh (Hey, nice body!), or even into the mind (I love the way you think!) but into the soul, the innermost part of a person (I don’t care what you’ve done, I still love you.) To love deeply is to love as God loves us, that even when we were His enemies, He sent His Son to die on the cross for us, so that we would be reconciled to Him.
I would challenge you today to do the same. Consider every person you have contact with today a person who needs love, not just for how they look or the way they think, but for the soul that exists deep inside them. That’s where the image of God rests upon them. For God is spirit. And each of us are made in His image. If you love God, then you will love seeing His face in every person you meet, even if those images are marred by sin and suffering. There is still a glimmer of God’s handiwork in each person, and it is up to us to offer grace to each one in Jesus’ Name.
Lord, help me to see You in every person I meet today. You have made each person, each of us in Your image. It’s just hard for me to imagine this, because I’ve met alot of people who do not act like you. Please help me extend Your grace to everyone I meet. Because You are full of grace for each person. I just need to see it. Thank You for all You have done for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.