Author: Joe Amend
Last May, my wife Kathy helped me write off a long-standing bucket list item: visit all 50 States in the USA. We visited the last three states left on my list and also visited another 3 states Kathy hadn’t been in. (She now only has 11 more States to go.)
During this trip out west, we saw some of the most recognizable scenery our country has to offer. The picture beside is what’s called ‘Washington in Profile’. My first thought as I viewed this for the very first time is, “Wow! He certainly has a big nose!”. If this were the only thing I saw, it would have been a very valid viewing point – the photo hasn’t been altered or manipulated. So far, so good.
However, just around the corner, here is another view of George Washington. Again, this is an unaltered, unmanipulated photo, but as we can see there is more to the picture the George Washington’s big nose …
Of course, it is Mount Rushmore. (By the way any picture of this scene can never do justice to what is actually there.)
I have realized that our viewing point determines our point of view. Where we look at something determines what we will see. Both pictures are valid views of what the photo shows, but we get completely different views of the same thing. So instead of Washington’s big nose, we find an iconic view of America through the eyes of the sculptor, John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum.
The same is true of a lot of issues confronting us today – both in politics and the challenges facing the UMC. We all can have valid views of the issues, but others also have valid views – and just maybe, an even more complete view of the topic of discussion.
In any discussion, we need to first understand the other person’s viewing point of the issue before we can begin to understand their point of view. We need to listen to understand, not listen to reply. 12th Century theologian Thomas Aquinas once observed that it you want to try to change a person’s opinion, you don’t yell across the room at them! You go over to them and gently guide them back to your side of the room. St. Francis of Assisi was pretty direct in the Prayer named after him (#481 in the UMH Hymnal), “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek … to be understood, as to understand …”
Some of you might be familiar with the phrase, “Make a friend; be a friend; introduce a friend to Jesus.” This process must start with us understanding not only their viewing point, but also understanding our own viewing point. Give it a try – what have we got to lose?
Prayer: O Lord, open our eyes to see as you see.
1 Corinthians 13:12 (The Message) – “We don’t yet see things clearly. … “
About Joe Amend:
Joe Amend is the Chair of the District Committee on Lay Servant Ministry. Previously, Joe was the Co-District Lay Leader of Harrisonburg for four years and is active in almost every aspect of ministry in the Harrisonburg District.