Through a Glass Darkly

December 13, 2014

by Maria Fontaine

“There are some of us … who think [to] ourselves, ‘If I had only been there! How quick I would have been to help the Baby. I would have washed His linens. How happy I would have been to go with the shepherds to see the Lord lying in the manger!’ Yes, we would. We say that because we know how great Christ is, but if we had been there at that time, we would have done no better than the people of Bethlehem. … Why don’t we do it now? We have Christ in our neighbor.”—Martin Luther

The Bible tells us that we see through a glass darkly. This refers to our limited ability to grasp the full spiritual realities of heaven, but I believe that our limited perception of the spiritual realities also affects our ability to fully understand the hearts of others who we encounter here and now in our daily lives. We often fail to see others as Jesus sees them. We so often fail to see them as the Lord’s beloved ones who He would have paid any price for, even if they had been the only one. He sees in them a beautiful spirit that He has created and He sees what they can become in Him.

We look at others many times and see the flaws—things like anger, selfishness, pride, or a seeming lack of motivation—rather than the sorrow and suffering and hopelessness they may be struggling with. We see the apparently defiant or rebellious outward appearance, rather than the great need of a lost and lonely person who longs for the hope and support we could offer them. We often miss seeing the eternal glimmer of life, that part of God that burns within them as surely as it glows in our own heart.

When we think of the lowly stable in Bethlehem, let’s remember that there are multitudes of “stables” housing countless lives right where we are today. The Christ child can be there to shine His light in their darkness through you.

Jesus wants us to look beneath the surface of outward circumstances and appearances and situations to see their hearts hungering after the truth. He wants us to look at them with eyes of the Spirit as priceless ones who He died for and who He longs to bless with His peace and salvation. He asks us to go to them in their sorrow and depression and hopelessness so that He can shine His life and love into their hearts.

He went, and it brought us into His kingdom. Mary looked beyond the circumstances in the stable to the angel’s promises and saw God’s gift to all mankind fulfilled before her eyes. The hosts of angels saw the reality beneath the humble beginnings of the Son of Man on earth and the heavens couldn't contain their rejoicing!

Let’s allow His brilliance to enlighten the darkened view of our earthly perceptions so that we can see those whom He beckons us to love and care for. He saw past our shell of humanity and reached out to draw us into the brilliance of His Spirit. Will you look, and then go and care and give as that baby, the Son of God made flesh, taught us to do? Can we do any less for the one who has given His all for us?