Look Behind Their Eyes
What do you see when you look into the eyes of your students? Joy? Excitement? Wonder? Despair? Loneliness? Anger? Many believe our kids are in trouble today. Our culture is full of mixed messages, and many of these ideas have caused people to devalue the church. Approximately 50 million children leave home each day to attend public schools. Most are unchurched, and many of them have never heard the name Jesus. To say our schools are a mission field is an understatement.
If you are a Christian educator, you are on mission the minute you enter the schoolhouse door. God gave me a heart for children, and my guess is He did the same for you. My desire was to love and teach them to the best of my ability, and I believe I did that. However, as I look back over my career, I wonder…did I truly see them? When I looked behind the eyes of my students, I am certain I saw children in need of information, support, or even discipline. I don’t know that I necessarily saw eternal souls.
Don’t get me wrong. Educating our students is our job, but our calling as believers is to merge the spiritual with the physical. Teaching isn’t just a job. It is an opportunity to invite Jesus, through the work of the Holy Spirit, to accompany us as we engage day-in-and-day-out with our colleagues and students. What may seem mundane and inconsequential on any given day could very well be divine and purposeful IF we see the eternal soul behind the eyes of those around us.
Remember 2 Peter 3:9?
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
How about Romans 5:8?
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
What about 1 Timothy 2:4
Who (God our Savior) desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
These verses and countless others Scripture passages remind us what God sees when He looks behind the eyes of an unbeliever. He sees an eternal soul, one who needs Him desperately. He sees one that He desires to love, forgive, and restore…just like He did for us! Let’s be honest. Sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in the temporal and forget the eternal. Daily pressures often distract us from the spiritual. If we are not careful, what we tend to see first in others is their obvious, sinful nature. After all, it can be hard to miss. Take a look at how Paul describes our sinful state to the Galatians.
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21
Every time I read these verses I am reminded of God’s grace. We have all heard the phrase, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” I am so thankful God does not leave us in our sin but gives us His gift of grace when we choose to put our faith in Him (Ephesians 2:8-9). We aren’t more deserving than others; we are simply the recipients of God’s goodness!
I’ve been reading a great deal lately about how frustrated teachers have become with the level of disrespect they are encountering on a daily basis. While I’m not condoning inappropriate behavior, I can’t say it surprises me. A friend of mine once said, “Lost people act lost.” We simply can’t expect non-believers (and this includes our students) to behave Biblically. As our world becomes more and more adversarial toward Christianity, it becomes even more critical for us to look beyond the exterior of others and see precious souls who need Jesus. After all, if it weren’t for God’s grace, we very likely could be behaving the same way.
I realize this may sound a bit dramatic, but I believe it is time we all get a bit more dramatic about our faith. Times are difficult. Many adults and children are living unhappy, hopeless lives. Their behaviors are often a condition of their hurting heart (Proverbs 4:23). It’s not about us. They need God’s grace! They need to know Jesus!
I know everyone agrees. So how can we, given our limitations, help others see Jesus and experience the hope we have in Christ? There are many ways this can happen, but let’s just focus on two for now.
1. Don’t hide your faith.
1 Peter 3:15 says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” We can’t be shy about our faith. Legally, we can’t proselytize, but we can answer questions about our faith and our beliefs in age-appropriate ways. We can have spiritual conversations with colleagues as long as those conversations don’t interfere with our duties as educators. Most importantly, we can be different (i.e., set apart from the lost world). Peter mentioned gentleness and respect. Paul goes a bit further. Remember the Galatians verse above about our sinful condition? Notice the contrast. Through the Holy Spirit we can demonstrate our faith to others without compromising the truth.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
2. Look behind their eyes.
When we look at the people in our circle of influence, let’s see them from God’s perspective. Use His lens to see them for who they really are—His creation, His handiwork, His people. God does not want anyone to spend eternity away from Him (2 Peter 3:9). He desires to give all an abundant life full of peace and joy (John 10:10). As we said earlier, our schools are a mission field. Each and every day God places students and colleagues in our path on purpose. Are some difficult? Yes. Are some burdensome? Yes. Are some hateful? Possibly. But Jesus died for them, too.
There is so much more to a person than what we can see with our physical eyes. Let’s ask God to help us see others as He sees them, to love them as He loves, and to share His grace that was so richly poured out on us.
Look behind their eyes. An eternal soul resides there!
“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” John 5:24