“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him . . .” –Mark 10:21
Society today is losing the art of looking at a person.
It’s not hard to spot. If you go on a train or subway, people whose faces are immersed in their iPhones will instantly catch your attention. Not only that, but social media is teaching us to fabricate our image with masks—so looking at a person and having them see who you really are is a scary idea.
The other day, I found it fascinating to hear of a new app that’s attempting to fix the lack of eye contact and authenticity today. It’s called Beme, and it allows you to capture and share moments without filtering them or breaking eye contact with the moment. I believe it’s a step in the right direction, but I also believe there has to be a heart change involved to fix the problem as well.
After all, the things that typically cause us to avoid looking at a person are things like lies, insecurity, and attachments to things like technology and possessions. These are spiritual matters.
This is also why I believe Jesus was so great at looking at people. The Gospels are clear that Jesus actually looked at the people He wanted to save. There were no lies, no insecurities, and no attachments holding Him back from truly connecting with a person.
If we are to live like Jesus, we need to bring this action back to the forefront of our daily lives again.
We need to make it an intentional practice to actually look at people—not ignore them for the brief entertainment of our smartphones.
Let’s turn back time and remember the spiritual benefits we had when we truly looked at people. Consider these three benefits, and let them change how you look at people today:
1. Looking at a person allows you to read emotions.
There was a recent study where a group of kids who went without technology for five days were better able to read emotions than the group of kids who had regular access to technology. It’s true: regular face-to-face interaction allows us to be socially conscious. We can see what people are feeling and be able to administer the right emotions by simply looking at people’s faces more.To be better communicators of the Gospel, we need to see where people are. Click To Tweet
So much of this is done with only looking at a person.
2. Looking at a person allows you to feel emotion.
If you are watching me experience an intense emotion, chances are, you’ll feel the emotion as well. This is because of “mirror neurons” in our brain. Mirror neurons can be activated when they are exposed to people’s facial expressions and eye contact. This is why looking at a person experience an intense emotion often invokes a similar reaction in ourselves.
If the mirror neurons tell us anything, it’s that we were designed to be like this. God wanted us to feel the emotions of others, much like Jesus felt in John 11:33 when he saw the people crying over Lazarus’ death.We bond with a person’s humanity when we choose to really look at them. Click To Tweet
Looking intently at a person allows us to feel people’s pain, their conflict, and their baggage. This might not sound appealing to you, but healing requires us to be broken first.
Maybe the reason pornography still exists today is because there are people who refuse to really look at the faces of the people they’re exploiting. Maybe trafficking and modern-day slavery works like this as well. This is why every person needs to break themselves by looking straight at a person and feeling what they feel.
3. Looking at a person conveys emotion.
While we can control what our facial expressions say, we oftentimes have a harder time controlling what our eyes say. Our eyes barely lie. They can typically give away what we’re thinking or feeling, which is why you can look into a person’s eye to tell if they’re lying or not.
God designed our eyes to be the windows to our soul. This idea frightens us when we carry the baggage of our own lies we’re trying to hide from others. But this idea can be liberating if we let it to be. By looking at a person, we can eliminate the inauthentic nature that exists today because of social media and edited photos. By looking at a person, we can experience the freedom of being known and loved for who we are.Our faces are always telling a story. Click To Tweet
As we’ve discussed, we can read this story, connect with it, and share it in by simply looking a person in the face. The more we ignore faces, the more we stunt the necessary connection for living like Jesus.
My wife once said that she thinks it’s beautiful that our eyes were designed to only look at others. It’s a reminder that we are to be selfless. Mirrors were our invention after all, not God’s. God designed us so that we can look at others and serve them, not ourselves. Serving oftentimes doesn’t happen when we look to our smartphones or other forms of entertainment. By looking at others, we can connect with them in a way that inspires and serves them.
Looking at another is a small but fading action in today’s society. But fortunately, we have the choice to change this today. Today, we can look at people. It’s a small commitment with profound benefits—for both the world and ourselves.
Change your habits, look at people, and experience the benefits of living like Jesus.