A few years ago, I was wandering through a mall in the city in which I work. I had finished a meeting with one of my friends from the street and was off to another meeting. This way through the mall was a short cut between streets. I was reflecting on the meeting I had just finished when I saw her at the other end of the hallway. To this day, I can’t describe her. I just know that I looked at her and shuddered, feeling like she was disgusting and unpleasant. I don’t even remember why. I didn’t know her. I knew nothing about her. Just her appearance disgusted me. Being a person who wants to follow God, I also knew my first reaction was wrong. I stopped walking, closed my eyes and whispered a quick prayer to God. “Help me see this woman the way you see this woman.” When I opened my eyes, for the briefest of seconds, in place of the woman, I saw my oldest son, and then I saw this woman again. God had answered my prayer. It was as if God had said this:
“You want to see how I see this woman? Look at her the way you look at your son. I love her that much and more! She is my daughter, not an object of disgust. She is my daughter and I love her very much. Treat her that way.”
Humbled, I sat and broke down. I no longer saw the woman. She was gone, but I have changed in my approach to others. I try (and this is hard sometimes) to see people as God sees them. They are his children. He loves them all very much. He wants the very best for each one, and my calling is to come so close to my God in worship, that I begin to see with God’s eyes, hurt with God’s heart and listen with God’s love.
I wonder if the disciples had a similar experience when the woman with 12 years of bleeding reached out to touch Jesus. The story is recounted in Mark 5:25-34. This woman would have felt quite disgusting. Her bleeding made her ceremonially unclean. In other words, she was not allowed to touch another person. If she had children, she could not hold them. If she had a husband, she could not kiss him. If she had parents, she could not receive a hug from them. Imagine that for a second. In desperation, that woman reached out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. She felt the bleeding stop. Jesus called her out of the crowd to share God’s love with her. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” He called her daughter.
That’s what worship does. We become like the one we worship and respond like they do. We see with their eyes. We hurt with their heart. We love with their love.