As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.
When I go to watch a movie at a theatre, I will often watch movies that are 3D. When you are wearing 3D glasses, you experience the movie in a way that can only be experienced when wearing those glasses. This seems to have the most effect when watching action movies. I have also noticed that life is full of actions. In fact, our lives themselves—lived in 3D—are action movies.
We, as believers in Jesus, in the church, are people who are called to action. Yet we all have unique backgrounds, and we come from a variety of ethnicities. God loves all these backgrounds and ethnicities for what they are. When we can learn to see each other through the eyes of Jesus, we will be a people of more action for the cause of the gospel. The gospel is good news, and Jesus himself is that good news. Seeing each other through these eyes can lead to a more fulfilling experience in life and the church.
As an Indigenous Christian, who has been part of the church for several years, this is what I have seen. There is a large number of Indigenous and Native American people who believe in God through Jesus Christ. There have been some setbacks throughout the history of Canada and the United States with regards to the gospel being presented. At the same time, there are so many Indigenous and Native Americans who genuinely enjoy going to church. They already know about Jesus. The same is true for all people.
I have seen that Indigenous and Native Americans go to mainstream churches in a wide variety of denominations, including the Christian Reformed Churches of North America. Some of my people have started their own churches, in their own communities. Some have used traditional beliefs and practices and combined them with European or Western forms of worship. Some of them are happy with the way the mainstream church expresses itself through worship and are quite happy with the way things already are. I know this is a similar story line for other ethnicities.
Some people struggle to step into a church because there aren’t very many familiar faces. Some just watch the evangelist on cable television and read their Bible at home. Sometimes the wife goes to church, but the husband stays at home. Sometimes the grandma goes to church and takes the grandchildren with her. Some struggle to get to church because of having no vehicle. All these circumstances are part of the lives of all people. Yet we are all longing for a better experience at the movie of life, especially in the church This can only be accomplished through seeing each other through the eyes of Jesus—seeing each other through the eyes of scripture.
There are so many people that just need encouragement and unconditional love. They are special to God, just like all of us are. The Indigenous people of Canada and the Native Americans of the United States have been through what the United Nations has called a “genocide.” Yet so many other people groups have been through genocides or oppression. I’m sure we could all tell stories of how our own ethic group has gone through unthinkable circumstances. We need to see each other through the eyes of Jesus and see what he would see. I think he would see hurting people that need to be set free.
When I think of all the unique people across North America, it makes me realize we are all different but all the same. We are all in need of Jesus. We all need this good news. We all need to see each other through the eyes of Jesus, which is seeing each other through the eyes of Scripture. All we must do is read Luke 4:18-19 to remind ourselves that we are all in need of help and encouragement.
Luke 4:18-19 says, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
I think we all fit into this category. We all need to be set free in some way. Sometimes from the past. Sometimes from the present. Sometimes from years of injustices. Sometimes from years of neglect. Seeing them through the eyes of Jesus will result in the best church experience for everyone. Just like watching a movie with 3D glasses can result in the best movie experience.
Jesus is the only one who can truly save. Sometimes all someone needs to know is that someone cares or is genuine. That someone went out of their way to care without judgment. That someone went out of their way to do an unconditional act of kindness without any qualifications for that kindness.
Whenever I see a fellow Indigenous person or Native American person, I feel a connection to them because I am Indigenous. I want to go up to them and ask where they are from. I want to know if they have ever been to my part of the country. I want to know if their childhood stories are like mine.
Just think if when you go into a coffee shop or restaurant or around your neighborhood and you had a connection with all people through the eyes of Jesus. What a difference that would make in the way we reach out to people and see all people, no matter their background. The rich and poor. The oppressed, but the more well-to-do. We all need Jesus. We would see the church be a more interactive experience if we put on the glasses of the good news and saw each other through the eyes of Jesus.