Wednesday, May 7, 2014

People Watching

After one of many appointments, Lisa and I were getting lunch in downtown Dallas.

It is one of the very special things we do these days.  We pray, talk, laugh, tear up at times and, almost always, start People Watching.  People Watching is like bird watching but a lot more fun.  Like bird watching, you do not want to spook the subject by revealing your "watching." To clarify, People Watching should not be confused with stalking--that is just weird.  Nor should it be conducted in order to validate a bias, position and/or person's value.  Done correctly, People Watching helps one appreciate the beauty, uniqueness and value of each individual person.  That was the case in downtown Dallas.

My wife and I selected a table next to a large set of windows.  It was an ideal People Watching position.  We saw some beautiful, unique and valuable people. 

We saw a street saxophone player (he was doing pretty well with his tips).

We saw cowboys (various hats and boots)

We saw business people (casual and suited up).

We saw students (you can tell by their back packs).

We saw homeless people (you can tell by their back packs as well).

We saw tourists (too many identifiers to mention).

We saw police officers (on horse back and scooters). 

We saw ourselves (glass reflects images).

It was an awesome time of People Watching.  I leaned over to Lisa and said, "I wonder if all of these people have families or those who care for them."  We concluded, that regardless of their situation, each of them needed to be loved by someone.  Then, in a moment of clarity (which often comes with genuine People Watching) we agreed that, at it's core, this is the message of the Gospel and the point of ministry.  Jesus put it this way,

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”-Matt 22:37ff

The thought I am about to leave you with is not necessarily a criticism of the way we "do church" in America (unless you need the prophetic correction).  However, it is a thought that draws our first fruit efforts and focus on that which I am convinced was the first fruit effort and focus of Jesus--people!
It is a challenge that comes from a lifetime of ministry experience and a lot of time with those "outside" the walls of our church whom we would love to have come "inside" the walls.  Here comes the thought:

What has the power, to bring a person "inside" the walls of churches?  
I know that cool paint, signage, songs, lights and comfortable pews have a certain value but NONE have the power, nor can replace, the impact of a Jesus follower who loves the Lord and their neighbor.  

Church leaders/members, where are we placing our first fruit efforts and focus?


  1. Great word here. Thank you for posting. And so incredibly true.

    "In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. … This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. … I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. … " Thomas Merton "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander"

    This is one of my favorite quotes about this very thing. He continues on to say its not about "telling" them, but showing them, exactly as you said at the end.

  2. Thank you for sharing this Seth! This is powerful! Be blessed in your "showing."