January 11, 2012 | 02:17 pm

What do I see in you?

I don’t know if you have thought about it, but how we see people determines how we treat people. People we deem of great value, we treat well. People we deem unpleasant, we avoid. And people we deem insignificant, we often oppress.  It all hinges on how we see others.

One of the great truths of our faith is that all people, without exception, bear the image of God. While this may sound like a doctrinal statement, it is more of a functional truth.  This means it doesn’t really matter if we say we believe this. What matters is if we see and affirm the divine in everyone we encounter.

Consider the people we run into daily. What comes to mind when we see that annoying colleague? The homeless man on the corner? The eccentric family member? An Arab in traditional headdress? Or an immigrant working on the street? Probably not “child of God” or “God’s image-bearer”! I’m not advocating a super piety that makes these the first words or thoughts we have. The truth is that sometimes our first impressions call up other words, like “jerk,” “lazy,” or “freak.” But when we stop looking for the divine in others, the door is then open for prejudice. And we easily develop justification for ignoring or neglecting others.

Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that “every human life is a reflection of divinity.” And he also reminded us what happens when we forget this: “every act of injustice mars and defaces the image of God in man.”

What I see in you and what you see in me matters. Look for God!