“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can be and should be and he will become as he can be and should be.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I recently read the book, If, written by Mark Batterson. He uses the quote above to discuss how Pharisees treat a person as they are, as what society and culture views them to be; but Jesus treats people so different. Batterson’s examples were Jesus’ disciples- Peter, James and John. He says, “Peter was impetuous, yet Jesus called him Rock. James and John were mama’s boys, yet He called them the Sons of Thunder.” Jesus didn’t let the world define them. Jesus defined them, He challenged them and believed what no one else believed about them.
I have thought about this idea quite a bit lately. I’m not sure about you, but sometimes I live my life out with a “glass half full” mentality. I limit my dreams because I don’t believe I can pursue or accomplish them. I don’t ever get to see the impossible things God wants to do, because I allow my fears to be greater. And if I am not following fear, I am following what others have said about me: you aren’t capable, you’re not qualified, etc. I respond to situations out of someone else’s perspective is of me.
Maybe not all my life choices are driven out of this mentality. Maybe not all your decisions are driven out of this either, but I am sure you can pinpoint a moment in your life when you responded to what you believed to be true about yourself, or what someone else believed to be true. We have all struggled with this.
This is why I love the story of Mary Magdalene. For Mary Magdalene, all hope was lost. Jesus, had died, and her hope had died with him. She is on her way to the tomb, the very symbol of her hopeless situation, and there she unexpectedly encounters the very one who redeems and restores all that is lost.
She meets Jesus! She is the first person He meets with after His resurrection. Not only does Jesus meet with her, but he charges her to go tell the other disciples this great news, that He is alive!
At first glance, we can miss the significance of this moment; from our society, we think, Ok, not a big deal that Jesus meets with Mary Magdalene. But it is a REALLY big deal. Jesus reveals Himself to a woman… first. And he does this in a society where women have little to no value.
When Jesus meets Mary Magdalene, He treats her as she is: someone who has great value. He calls her to what she could be: a messenger of truth and hope.
Jesus defines her and challenges her.
When Jesus meets Mary Magdalene, He treats her as she is: someone who has great value.
Society saw Mary Magdalene as someone who had nothing to give, who had no value. She probably believed the same thing about herself, it was the only “truth” she knew about women. Society wasn’t so nice to some of Jesus’ disciple’s either, like Peter and James. They were just lower-class fishermen, unlearned and uneducated with not much to offer.
But Jesus saw all of them differently.
I often get caught up on the fact I don’t have an amazing gifting. I know where I am inadequate. I know my weaknesses. And I am very quick to let them be loudest thing I hear.
It is so easy to get caught up in our weaknesses and faults. It is so easy to listen to what the enemy and society say you are. It is so easy to live out someone else’s perspective of you, even if it may be incredibly painful.
This is where we must let Jesus step in.
When we were created God said, “this is good”. When God sees us, He sees all of us- from beginning to end, mistakes and all. Psalms 139 talks about how intimately God knows us, that even before we take our first breath, He has the days of our life written down. His response is the same, “this is good”.
The enemy wants us to get caught up in what the society defines us as, he wants the lies we believe about ourselves to guide us. He wants our fears to keep us from living out what God has spoken over us. Think if Peter, James, John and Mary Magdalene chose not to follow what Jesus spoke over them. Their life, history, even our life, would all be different.
God is still speaking and calling us to who we were created to be. He wants us to know who we are and wants us to live that out.
What fears or insecurities are you choosing to follow?
I encourage you to take a minute and write these fears down. There is something about putting fears in writing that allows us to be honest with ourselves. Sometimes, we don’t even realize what is driving us until we actually stop for a “moment of truth”.
I don’t prompt you to do this just because I think it sounds like a good idea. My husband and I actually have a journal where we write out the fears we are struggling with. Because this is what we have found to be true: we tend to respond to the world around us out of our fears. If I am struggling with feeling like I don’t have anything to give, I start to live like I don’t have anything to give . If I feel insignificant, it is so much harder for me to celebrate someone else when they do something significant, even those I love. We have found that writing our fears down creates space for God to speak us and give us His perspective.
Writing our fears down creates space for God to speak us and give us His perspective.
So, after writing your fears down, pray and ask God to show you who He created you to be. Ask God for His perspective and write it out. When we do this, it helps us rewrite the way we respond before fear has a chance to lead.
I know sometimes hearing God’s perspective of us is crazy. We see our past, we see our mistakes and we think God doesn’t want to use someone like us. But this is what God does! He uses the impossible!
Think about it, it was crazy when Jesus told Mary Magdalene to share the best news of all eternity. It was crazy that God picked Peter to be the father of the church. God doesn’t let crazy stop Him. Impossible situations, impossible stories, impossible dreams magnify how great God is! When all of life says this shouldn’t be, but it is – this only points to the greatness of God.
Now, after seeing who God thinks you are, here comes the most important action step for you and me- we have to trust Him. So simple to say, so hard to do.
But here is what I know: Mary Magdalene had to choose to trust what Jesus called her to. Peter, had to choose not to only see his mistakes, but to walk in the grace Jesus gave him and live out what was spoken over his life.
And the same is true for you and me.
Allow Jesus to call you to what you can be and should be. And then, trust Him.
Don’t choose to live a life defined by the world or society. Live as who you are, a daughter or son of the King. Choose to be who God sees, and who He saw when He said, ‘this is good.’