Seeing Without Observing

Most people seem to go through life seeing, but not really “seeing” or observing at a deeper level. Normal human condition is one of near total self-absorption. People see others mainly in relation to what their impact is on them.

I have seen parents who see their children, not for what they are as unique individuals, but more as an extension of themselves. 30 years of refereeing and coaching soccer (plus living through being the parent of an athlete and not always being the perfect example of the right way to be) has given me perspective on the whole “living life through your kids” syndrome. The same works for the famous “stage mother” type.

Seeing without observing causes one to miss opportunities to serve and to miss nudgings of the Holy Spirit. You don’t really see the person who needs help with a load. Or the person with troubles. Or the person who is rejoicing and appreciates when someone notices and rejoices with them. Or when the Spirit nudges you toward saying something meaningful to another.

Jesus seemed always to be aware of everything going on around him. This doesn’t mean that he didn’t pray for his own situation–obviously he did. But look at the number of times he was aware of what the Pharisees were saying about him. About the time the woman knew she would be healed if she but touched Jesus’ robe–and he felt the energy. He didn’t wander around absorbed in his own thoughts. He was always watching people.

We must also be careful about looking to Jesus as an example. John Ortberg taught last Sunday on the book, “Zealot.” I had not heard of the book, but it’s another in a long line of books saying basically that Jesus was not who we think he is. Rather, he was just another man in a long line of failed Zealots. Ortberg takes the author to task much better than could ever do. Click the link and find the sermon podcast. Well worth a listen.

During the talk, Ortberg mentioned that often when someone writes about Jesus, they are really describing themselves. That is, the don’t really look at Jesus, but at what they like and make Jesus fit the mold. I realized that years ago, and try hard to discern the real Jesus–as well as the real Paul. We all confuse them so much with what we’d really like for them to be and say.

But that’s part of observing. Sometimes it takes a long time to finally figure it out. A long time to realize your own prejudices in how you observe.

A daily discipline is to clear your head every morning through silent meditation for even just a few minutes and ask God to help you focus on others, not yourself.

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2 Responses to “Seeing Without Observing”

  1. Jay Jeffreys Says:

    Wow. Thank you, Gary. Sometimes I teach a short message for a retirement village in north Austin. If you don’t mind I’m going to use this as an outline for next time I teach. And what a blessing those elder saints are to me. Last Sunday I brought in the mandolin for Come Thou Fount, and Sunday before the banjo for I’ll Fly Away and Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. I think we heard a little bit of heaven once or twice. God is good.

    • Gary Mintchell Says:

      I’m glad it resonated, Jay. I forgot about “I’ll Fly Away.” Have to dig that up out next time I get my guitar out. Don’t ever give up on people. Tune them toward God and you can never anticipate the good things that will happen.

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