Perhaps the greatest harm the church has caused in me was to teach and train me to see people as naturally sinful and in essence, evil. That from birth, due to our inherit nature, we are enemies with the Creator God. That the God who is infinite in his goodness, his power, and his knowledge sees us all as souls worthy of eternal damnation.
I still struggle with this every day. It affects my attitude, my words, my worldview, my behaviors. But I believe to see people in this way is the worst way to interact with other people. It’s the worst way to view ourselves.
We all want, for the most part, to be people of integrity. I wholeheartedly believe that everyone has inside of them a deep sense of goodness. Deep down in the core of who we are as a people is a sense of grace. I believe this because I believe that everyone has the image of God – the Divine – in them. I have recently learned that I have to speak to that part in a person for me to really connect with them. It takes courage because I have to be vulnerable myself to actually speak to that part in a person.
I first have to believe it, however.
We are all constantly living in the space of struggle. There’s all sorts of things pulling and tugging at our hearts. It’s easy to forget as we interact with others. Especially if they are being particularly unpleasant. But there is that sense of an inner-child within us all, I think. It’s that part that I am constantly trying to look for.
It’s my belief that this is the way that God sees us all the time.
Fred Rogers once said this:
I remember one of my seminary professors saying people who were able to appreciate others—who looked for what was good and healthy and kind—were about as close as you could get to God—to the eternal good. And those people who were always looking for what was bad about themselves and others were really on the side of evil. “That’s what evil wants,” he would say. “Evil wants us to feel so terrible about who we are and who we know, that we’ll look with condemning eyes on anybody who happens to be with us at the moment.”
I encourage you to look for the good where you are and embrace it.