I love staring at people. I don’t even know how to say it in a less creepy way. People are just plain fascinating.
I first got a taste for people watching when I was dating my wife. She studied kids in college. Seriously. She was a child development major. So every date we ever went on involved some degree of observation. She would sit there, wide-eyed, mouth slightly agape, and just take it all in. I didn’t understand her preoccupation. Now I see that she was on to something.
You never know what people are going to do. What makes a cool person cool? Or an awkward person awkward? Or a funny person funny? Why do so many people fall in line with social norms? And why do a few people seem to be oblivious to these norms? Why do these select few do things in a way that no one else would think to do it? How can people be so alike and yet so different?
There is a theological reason why people are so fascinating. People are actually hand-crafted by the Creator (Psalm 139:13-16). So when we look at another human being, we are actually looking at a work of art more intricate than anything a human artist could ever imagine. A human being is a staggering feat of engineering, chemistry, physics, aesthetics, etc.
As amazing as that is, it doesn’t take into account the soul. The most incredible thing about human beings is that we are actually made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). There is a lot of debate about what exactly that “image” is (our personality? our ability to reason? our will? our stewardship? some kind of physical resemblance?), but the point is that in some important respect, we are made to resemble God.
Those two things are all the justification we’ll ever need to stare at people. Everyone you see has been hand-crafted by God and bears God’s image. Unbelievable. Walk into a museum and you can stare at Van Gogh’s artwork. Walk into a coffee shop and you can stare at God’s.
Of course, sin ensures that people do not resemble God and His craftsmanship as nearly as they should. Sin can even have an aesthetic affect on us. Yet the image of God still remains even after the fall (see James 3:9).
So stare away. In a sense, staring at people is a way of staring at God. We always have to be cautious of sin—sin pervades our hearts and turns admiration of God and His handiwork into idolatry, jealousy, slander, and lust. But people are still fascinating. They deserve to be watched. So don’t be creepy, but watch what people do and admire them for God’s sake.
In the next post, I will discuss another important aspect of people watching: the unbelievable beauty that comes out of a person’s life when the Spirit does His work.