Gabriel's Horn, Pastor George Weaver, August, 2016

posted Aug 3, 2016, 7:26 AM by Lois Kerchner

Seeing Beyond the Surface

    As a child with Tourette syndrome, Brad Cohen was ridiculed, beaten, mocked, and shunned. Children, teachers, and even family members found it difficult to be around him. As a teen, Brad was viewed by many as purposefully misbehaving, even though he had little power over the twitches and noises he produced, especially under stress. Even today, sometimes he still gets ejected from movie theaters and restaurants.

    Brad Cohen's story, however, is not one of self-pity and deprecation. His unwavering determination and fiercely positive attitude conquered the habitual difficulties he faced in school, in college, and while job hunting. Brad never stopped striving, and after twenty-four interviews, he landed his dream job: teaching grade school and nurturing all of his students as a positive, encouraging role model.

    Here was a person who graduated cum laude from college with a teaching certificate, but was turned down 24 times before eventually being hired. Administrators at the 25th school were willing to look beyond Brad's disability. They recognized his teaching gifts and hired him in spite of his suffering from an obvious neurological disorder. Brad went on to become a highly successful teacher and motivational speaker. His autobiography became a bestseller which was made into a moving film dramatization called Front of the Class.

    Christian love requires that we look beyond superficialities and a willingness to make special accommodations whenever necessary. Jesus paid special attention to those who were rejected and overlooked. He noticed Zacchaeus, the little/short in stature tax collector looking down from his perch in the sycamore tree, and reached out to him telling him to climb down quickly from the tree, “For I'm coming to stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5).

    On another occasion there was a blind beggar seated by the roadside who began to shout “Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me,” upon hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth who was passing along the roadway. Even though Jesus' disciples and some others in the crowd told the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, to hush up and be quiet, he only shouted all the louder. Jesus paused and spoke to the one calling, ”What do you want me to do for you?” When the blind man answered that he wanted his sight back, “Jesus said to him, 'Go; your faith has healed you.' And at once he recovered his sight and followed him (i.e., Jesus) on the road” (Mark 10:32 REB).

    There was another time when a desperate woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years came up from behind him and touched the hem of Jesus' cloak. She had said to herself “If I can only touch his cloak, I shall be healed.” “But Jesus turned and saw her and said, 'Take heart, my daughter; your faith has healed you.' And from that moment she recovered” (Matt. 9:22 REB).

    The Lord Jesus has set the example. Can we see all people as the Savior saw them – fellow beings worthy to be redeemed and transformed through the gift of new life in Christ Jesus. We are all children of God with our own unique qualities and gifts. We are all valued in God's sight. Do we recognize and value the gifts of others?

    Jesus puts it quite simply: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). With that in mind it should be possible to overlook the speck in the eye of our brothers and sisters, particularly in light of the log in our own eyes. By going deeper and looking beyond the surface it becomes possible to recognize the unique, divinely given qualities within all of God's creatures.


George Weaver, Pastor of Maturing Ministries