Getting Into Their Skin

By: Rich Preuss

Matthew 7:1

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

Our family recently watched a film, Monsieur Vincent, about the life of Vincent DePaul. What was most striking was how important it was for Vincent to enter into the world of the poor whom he served so he could love them in the most effective way. Likewise, in recent times, we have been struck by how Mother Theresa entered into the world of the poorest of the poor to serve them and bring the reality of Christ to them.

In the same way, Jesus entered into our world. God so values our humanity that he took it on fully and walked in our shoes, experiencing everything we experience. In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus says, “You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Through the incarnation, God climbed into our skin, becoming fully human, so that we in turn could experience his divinity.

Jesus’ great command to us is to Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, Love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). Have we ever thought about this in terms of getting into God’s skin? What about our neighbor’s?

Getting into God’s skin entails really taking the time to know him from the inside. It means praying, reading scripture and relating to our Father just as Jesus did. Earnestly seeking a closer relationship with him helps us to take on a bigger picture view of what he is doing and how he perceives the events of our lives and the happenings around us.

Getting into our neighbor’s skin is equally important. Everyone is pursuing life in Christ; some just don’t know it. Our neighbors pursue happiness in all sorts of ways: food, drink, drugs, sexuality, money, power, prestige and fame, to name a few. They pursue these things because they perceive happiness at the end of the quest.

If we can put ourselves in their skin and see where they are coming from, we are better able to meet them where they are and engage them in our lives. This helps us to see that they aren’t malicious; they are just pursuing the wrong things because they don’t know better.

This mode of thinking easily carries over to other areas of our lives. Are we sensitive to such judgments? Are we so closed-minded that we can't even see the bigger picture? Do we really need to make judgments about many of the things we judge?

Let us strive to judge less and understand more!


TAKE THE CHALLENGE: Are we afraid to get close enough to our non-Christian neighbors to get into their skin? Do we keep people at arm’s length out of fear, or do we put people into neat little boxes?