I dropped my son off at a college he never visited, a place where he knew absolutely no one, a day’s drive away from me. What was I thinking!?
The first week was tense with text messages and phone calls flying between us: he needed his books, his schedule wasn’t working out right, he had nothing in common with anyone, he was anxious, nervous, upset.
Finally, the calm phone call came about another week into it.
“So, do you hang out with Max?”
Max (pronounced “Machs” in the German way) was the young man we met on move-in day. The two of them seemed to have a lot in common, and I had consoled myself that God was providing a friend.
“No, we don’t get along too well.”
“Really? Why not? You seemed to have so much in common that first day.”
“All he wants to talk about is girls.”
I couldn’t help laughing. My son has been in love with the female population since the day he was born. Honestly, as a newborn I took him with me to school each morning for the first twenty minutes. Then his father, getting off the night shift, would stop by the school and pick him up. During those twenty minutes, my son cooed and gurgled as the kids came over to talk to him in his car seat. But if several kids came at once, he ALWAYS turned to the girls’ faces and completely ignored the boys’ faces.
So now I found it humorous that he was complaining about a guy talking about girls.
“I mean, I can talk about girls for a few minutes, but then I need to talk about something else. There’s only so much to say about them.”
“What do you mean?” I barely hid my mirth.
“Max would ask me what I thought of a girl. I would say I know she likes this kind of music, she reads these books, and she wants to study this. But he would say ‘No’ and ask me what I would rank them on a scale of 1-10. I told him I wasn’t comfortable with that. That’s not a good way to talk about girls.”
“Good for you,” I crowed.
I felt successful. All of those years asking what do you like IN a girl, saying choose a girl who loves Jesus and respects her parents, a girl you can have fun with and talk to. . . Finally I knew it paid off.
As the week following that conversation passed, I began to wonder how often I might be guilty of objectifying people, too. Unlike Max, I don’t rate people based on their looks, but maybe I assign a value to them based on their usefulness to me. This person has experiences that will help me, I give her a 7. This person has material possessions I can borrow, 8.5. WooHoo! This guy knows people I want to be connected with, Perfect 10!
Or perhaps, even worse, I assign them a negative value based on what they take out of me or require of me. You need a ride to the store? -3 She needs me to spend an afternoon finding resources to help her? -6 He wants money and obviously doesn’t want to work for it? -10
Worse yet, what if I do this to my children?
“Yes, my son could multiply his sixes at age two.” I give that a 6.
“My daughter? Well she won first place at the science fair for her exhibit on the bioengineering of a mushroom virus. She’s planning on attending Stamford once she finishes sixth grade.” Definitely a 9.3.
“You did what?! If the police find out you hung a porta-potty with a chain over the bridge, your picture will be in the paper. The neighbors will know!” Negative 7 and don’t tell anyone who your mother is.
“Get that picture off of Facebook this instant. People will think I raised a wild child. And wash that make-up off!” – 4
And then fear creeps in. What if God rates people too? What if he hears my crying and cringes? What if he becomes bored with my begging? What if he sees the sin that so easily entangles me and says, “Enough. I don’t wish to be your friend any longer.”?
Then I sweep that fear aside, because I know the truth; God does rate me, even judges me, but through the lens of his Son. At last, I am a Perfect 10!
11 That keeps us vigilant, you can be sure. It’s no light thing to know that we’ll all one day stand in that place of Judgment. That’s why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God. God alone knows how well we do this, but I hope you realize how much and deeply we care. 12 We’re not saying this to make ourselves look good to you. We just thought it would make you feel good, proud even, that we’re on your side and not just nice to your face as so many people are. 13 If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. 14 Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do. 15He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own. 16 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. 17 Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! 18 All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. 19 God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. 20 We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. 21 How? you say. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God. 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 The Message