For most of us, eye contact is a common courtesy used when speaking to another. We remind our children to “look at her when she’s talking to you”. For some of us, eye contact is uncomfortable. If we believe that our eyes are the “window to the soul”, we may find it difficult to allow another to look into our hearts. Some of us battle shame or shyness or judgment, so we struggle to bring our chin up and allow our eyes to meet the face of another.
And some of us are so full of arrogance that we actually choose to avoid the wounded eyes of those we’d rather judge. By refusing to look at those who’ve sinned (against us or those we know), we make our point: YOU ARE NOT WORTHY TO BE LOOKED AT.
I’m addressing a nasty church issue that I can no longer ignore. And I may be criticized for it but I don’t care. (For the record, I have not experienced this issue in my current church.) But this issue is rampant at a church where I know some “uber holy folks” who refuse to make eye contact with a certain woman. This woman chose deception over truth, made a choice to sin, repented of that sin, sought forgiveness, accepted church discipline, and is trying to move forward. One problem however: the uber holy folks are proving that forgiveness and redemption are not possible. For some reason, they think their job is to set higher standards than Jesus Himself set.
If I remember correctly from Scripture, Jesus refused to judge the woman caught in adultery. He looked at her, forgave her, and then kindly told her to “go and sin no more.” He did not look above her or past her. He looked right at her, proving her worth as His created being. And Jesus has looked right at this broken woman of the 21st century and has forgiven her.
That should be enough for the uber holy folks, right? Well, it isn’t. Two plus years after the sin surfaced and they demand more. They seem to demand something that none of us, not even they, can attain. They seem to demand perfection of this woman. In the meantime however, they have started a Sunday school class on LOVE. Can you believe it? More Bible studies on MERCY. They have taken to the streets to feed the hungry, give to the poor, even adopting orphans. Good for them. What I want to know is this: where is the love within the walls of the church toward those who have publicly sinned? Where is the eye contact toward the wounded lambs within their fold? Is eye contact reserved only for the spiritually elite? And where is the church discipline for these uber holy folks? How are they allowed to lead when they cannot even look on the broken souls in their midst? I have actually heard people from this church say, “If I were not a Christian, I would not become one based on how the people here treat the broken.” Harsh words from some of their own.
Here’s what I know: Jesus looks at us. Jesus looks at ALL of us, including the holy folks (whom I struggle to love). No matter what we have done, He chooses to fix His eyes on ours.
In Luke 22:60, we read of Peter’s denial of Jesus in His hour of greatest need. After the rooster crowed, Scripture tells us, “the Lord turned and looked at Peter.” Why is His look significant? Because by looking right at Peter, Jesus “discerns clearly” the heart of his friend. Jesus reveals the depth of His love to His most eager follower. Even when Peter denied Him, Jesus was still willing to engage with one of His created. He valued the soul of the one who sinned against Him. Jesus still found Peter worthy of His time. And how does Peter respond? Luke tells us in verse 62 that “he went out and wept bitterly.” He left, knowing that Jesus loved him fiercely, right through the layers of his sin and pain.
I believe this 21st century woman has been devastated by her actions. She understands the depth of her sin. She has made right all that can be made right this side of eternity. What else must she do? And Jesus has looked on her with compassion. His eyes, full of love, have gazed into hers.
I’m just wondering why the uber holy folks can’t do the same?