Imagine yourself in a big city in a crowd of people.
What it would be like to see all the people in the crowd like Jesus does —
an anonymous crowd with
old ones and young ones,
fat ones and thin ones,
attractive ones and ugly ones—
think what it would be like to love them.
If our faith is true, if there is a God,
and if God loves, he loves each one of those.
Try to see them as loved.
And then try to see them, these faces, as loved by you.
What would it be like to love these people, to love these faces —
the lovable faces, the kind faces, gentle compassionate faces?
That’s not so hard.
But there are lots of other faces —
disagreeable faces, frightening faces, frightened faces, cruel faces, closed faces. …
they are all peculiar treasures.
In Exodus, God said to Israel,
“You shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people.”
God meant it for all of us.
~Frederick Buechner from The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look, and Listen to Life
t doesn’t take long for me to be overwhelmed by humanity when we have visited some of the world’s largest cities. Airports are a shock of weaving lines of weary people and crying children, commuter trains are packed with individuals standing like sardines for an hour or more twice a day, the stations are a sea of bobbing heads flowing out onto the streets where the crosswalks become a mass hive of activity whenever the light changes.
Yet I’ve been struck by the effort some locals make to help visitors who look lost, or who simply look different. There is outreach at times that is spontaneous, genuine and completely unexpected. Those are easy faces to love and we do. What is much much harder to is love those hundreds of thousands who rush past us on their way to work, to shop, to return home. How can I even begin to have the capacity?
Who greeted Jesus after he entered Jerusalem in the final week of His life? These were not all friendly faces. He loved them all any way, every single one of them were peculiar treasures to him, forgiven and redeemed by His walk to, and death on, the cross.
I realize much of the time I too feel rushed, not bothering to reach out and be helpful when needed. Even so, He loves me still, flaws and all, as His redeeming grace is meant for one such as me – a peculiar treasure.
Because of His love, I become the real thing and not just a distorted reflection of what I think I should be.
This year’s Lenten theme:
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4: 18