This past Tuesday, Wendy and I were reading through a passage of scripture found in the book of Mark, Mark 10 to be exact. There are several stories mentioned. One of them caught my attention. Actually, it was just one line in one of the events, which I had probably read a 100 times before, but failed to see. “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” This rich young ruler was about to hear some of the worst news, if not the worst news in his life. But before Jesus uttered a word, Jesus first loved.
I’ve ever heard the expression, “If looks could kill?” Never have I once read or heard, “If looks could love?” And just like that, Jesus teaches us a simple look can actually love. Mark saw it, otherwise he wouldn’t have written it down, and if Mark caught it, what about the rich young ruler? Yes, he did walk away, perplexed and discouraged...but what ever happened to the young man? Scripture doesn’t say. Nevertheless, Jesus does give his disciples a strong word about how hard it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom. The point, for me, even though Jesus knew how this man would react, He first wanted him to know He was loved. Oh, I’m sure other Biblical scholars could say much more about this, and some might say I’ve just looked into this line a bit too much. It’s entirely possible. No matter your opinion or understanding of this particular verse, it is worth noticing Jesus could love with out saying or uttering a word.
What about me? Do my looks kill or do they love? Am I intentional even with how I look at someone? I believe most of us could answer with a simple, sometimes. And this is probably the truth. I’m sure at times, motives play a role, and other times we are simply unaware, or don’t care. Whatever the case, this simple lesson for me taught me one thing…the way I look at someone counts.
Here in Uganda, children grow up learning not to look an adult in the eye, for if you dare, you are signaling a real sign of disrespect. Just yesterday I sat down with one of our students and had to ask him a few difficult questions. The student was sure I wasn’t going to allow him to look straight at me, but to his surprise, I asked him to look at me as I was talking. It was like he was being tortured! Look at someone with authority in the eye? Not a chance. As he struggled to maintain eye contact with me, I repeated myself, “Please Jordan, look at me when I am talking to you.” For the rest of the conversation, or lecture, Jordan never once looked down or away. I wanted him to know I loved him, with out saying it, and all the while rebuking some of his actions, which had previously taken place. I can’t be certain, but I would venture to say it was one of the first times in his young life, he was being disciplined, and all at the same time, loved. But let me be transparent…most of the time I fail at this, especially when I’m around my colleagues. God help me to be more like you.
I can’t make this up, the same little boy Jordan literally just entered my office. He asked me if I was fine and that he had heard me coughing a bit. I told him I had a touch of the flu, but that I’d be OK. Little Jordan looked at me straight in the eyes and said, “Good, I just wanted to check on you.”