The older man shuffled into the row where single parent Tammy sat with her 5-year old daughter. He plunked himself in the chair beside them. Immediately, the smell of dirty socks and body odor lingered in the air.
Tammy watched as her daughter plugged her nose. She chuckled to herself and wished she could do the same, but it would be rude for an adult to be so blatant.
Trying not to appear obvious, Tammy glanced over her shoulder to make it appear like she was looking for someone. In doing so, she stole a glance at the man beside her. It looked as if a robin would lay her eggs in his nest of a hairdo. His clothes were wrinkled, spoiled and just plain ugly. The nose and lip ring made her question his age. At first glance, he looked older, but with a closer look she wondered if he was even 30.
Her daughter tugged on her arm. “Mommy, he stinks,” she said loud enough for those around her to chuckle.
Tammy shushed her daughter, grabbed her hand and stood. She needed to move as she couldn’t sit beside this man for the entire service. “You just had to sit by us,” she said to herself.
Little did she know the man was actually a pastor from another church appointed by the rest of the pastoral community to dress as a homeless man in order to make a point that morning in their service. We judge too easily, and Tammy just proved them correct.
This story is fictional, but it could be true. I’m sure something similar has happened in many churches all over North America. Sad, isn’t it?
What would you do if a situation like this happened to you? Or if a young teen, blanketed in tattoos, sat next to you? Would you get up and move away? Would you be offended and judge this person just from their looks?
I believe we are all guilty of this. How many times have you crossed the street in order to avoid a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk with his hat held out in hopes of someone giving him money so he could buy his next meal?
Guilty as charged. I’ve done it.
Or, how many times do we turn our nose up at someone we don’t feel “fits in our world”? How can we judge without knowing their story? Maybe that homeless man lost everything, and has no way to support his young daughter sleeping in a cardboard box down the street. Or the lady sitting all by herself in the pew ahead of you is mourning the loss of her husband. Perhaps the women with the screaming kids in the shopping cart ahead of you in line at the grocery store just found out her husband is having an affair.
We just don’t know.
It’s time we put aside all of our preconceived notions, and stop judging people because of this or that. Jesus doesn’t want us to. Just imagine, if we did this the world might view us Christians as more loving and not so quick to pass judgment.
Will you give the gavel over to Jesus and let Him be the judge from now on? I’m going to try.
Luke 6:37 (KJV)
“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”