This past Monday, I returned home from my first trip to what has been one of the most controversial countries in the Western Hemisphere. For most Americans, the island of Cuba is known for its cigars, classic cars and communist revolutionaries. However, beyond this perception are people. Real people with real lives that tend to get overlooked when we only see a country through the lens of politics and propaganda.
One of my favorite aspects about the trips that we take is that we stay with those who actually live in the country that we are visiting. We get to learn about a culture’s daily life by experiencing it firsthand, and we find ourselves in places that would never make it into the travel brochure. I went with the intention on serving and blessing the people of Cuba but found myself being blessed by a people who are too often misunderstood.
As I reflect on my experience last week, I am reminded of what God told the prophet Samuel when he was looking for a successor to King Saul. God said to Samuel, “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16)
How many of us tend to see the world as man sees it rather than as the Lord sees it?
How many of us view different countries and people groups based on how they are portrayed in political discourse, propaganda and overall popular opinion?
This past week was a reminder that I need to pursue seeing the world the way God sees it. I want to examine and engage people’s hearts rather than making assumptions or formulating opinions about them.
I also want to step into the shoes of others for a moment and see the world from their vantage point. Let us not forget that we have been blessed by a God who stepped down from heaven and into our shoes to dwell among us. Jesus came into our world and lived life from our vantage point. And in doing so, he became our mediator before God who is able to sympathize with our own struggles and experiences.
So let’s fight the temptation to stereotype and only see others from a distance. Let’s pray and pursue seeing the world the way God sees it. And let’s try our best to step into the shoes of others with a sincere heart and an open mind.
Our God is the Almighty Creator of this world who loves his creation and pursues people from every nation, language, tribe and people group on the planet. Jesus taught us that collectively we are all the new family of God with him as our good Father. So please pray for our brothers and sisters in Cuba. Pray for disciples to be made and churches to be multiplied and that the people of God there will seek the peace and prosperity of that country with a pure heart that remains devoted to their true King.
And please pray for the church here in America. We could learn a lot from our brothers and sisters in Cuba. Pray for a renewed strength that resists the temptations that come with living in the wealthiest nation in human history. Pray for disciples to be made and healthy churches to be multiplied and that the people of God here will put their allegiance to Jesus over and above all other allegiances.
Let’s join our brothers and sisters in Cuba and across the globe as the one new family of God. And let’s stay focused on the mission of God and make disciples of Jesus from all nations who love God passionately and love others radically.