The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is one of my favorite television shows. Apparently, I am not alone in this since there are now two different versions — one set in New York and the other in London.
I recently watched an episode of the New York version in which Sherlock and Dr. Joan Watson were called to a murder scene. A man had been found murdered in his home. As Sherlock and Watson started looking around, they found a room with plain white walls and no decorations. The other detectives had noticed the room’s odd décor, but had dismissed it as just one of the odd things people do.
However, Sherlock noticed several subtle clues that the others had missed. First, there was the faint aroma of lemon juice on the walls. Next, he discovered a purple colored bulb used to generate what is commonly referred to as black light in one of the lamps. Finally, there was the presence of heavy drapes covering all the windows in the room. A few minutes later, after closing all the drapes and the black light switched on, the secret was revealed. The walls were covered with mathematical equations and calculations.
One of Sherlock’s gifts is that he sees things that others miss. Jesus had a similar ability to look at people and see what others missed. He was able to and see past the brokenness of this world to see the children of God people were always meant to be.
In the book of Genesis, there is a story about an elderly couple named Abram and Sarai. The world saw them as just another old, childless, couple who were well past the age of having children and were comfortably settled into retirement. And to be honest, that was how they saw themselves. But when God looked at them he saw two people destined to be and do more. He changed their names to Abraham and Sara as they became the mother and father of a great nation. In the fullness of time, their descendants would leave Egyptian bondage and follow God into the promised land.
John 4:1-30 tells the story of an encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. To the world, she was just another disgraced woman living on the edge of society. There had been five husbands in her past, and she was living with a man who was not her husband. Jesus saw her as God saw her and offered her a drink of the living water. After receiving the water of salvation, he sent her on her way. She immediately returned to the village to tell the others. She became one of the first evangelists.
Then, there were James and John. The world saw two brothers who were fishermen, members of the underclass. Today, they might well have been janitors, burger flippers, or a couple of guys working at the car wash. Jesus saw past what they did for a living and called them as his first disciples.
Let me offer a suggestion. In the coming days and weeks, take time to notice the people you encounter and try to see them not as the world sees them but as God sees them. Who knows, you might be surprised.
John R. Fowler is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Prosper.