Sunday, July 3, 2011

Judging By Appearances

What if there was a way to live your life so that those who are judgmental, imposing and cruel would be weeded out before you even had to meet them?  I think there is a way to do that, actually.  And a lot of teens have figured it out.

My family was in the mountains once and went to a downtown area where we found a culture that was steeped in new age philosophy with lots of astrological stuff, "emo" fashion, tons of drug references, upside down stars, coffee shops and other hang out places where they would all congregate.  A lot of the kids were wearing all black and had earrings, tattoos, purple and blue hair and body piercings.  I thought for a moment it would be a difficult place for me to walk through.  But something else happened that day.

I felt the judgmental attitude creeping up on me so I prayed immediately that God would show me these people the way He sees them.  He answered my prayer and instilled in my heart a deep love for these kids.  Instead of walking through there uncomfortable and offended, I felt compassion for them.  I realized that often, the reason so many kids define themselves in a culture like that is to weed out the people who are going to judge them right off the bat.  Those would be the people who don't take the time to get to know them as a person because of how they look.  I don't want to be one of those people.

But what if their appearance didn't freak us out?  Instead of rolling our eyes and labeling them, what would happen if we reached out to them, without batting an eye?  What if instead of looking at the outside, we began to ask God to show us the inside? 

What I saw was a culture of young people who are seeking Truth...but looking in the wrong places.  I saw kids just like mine, but with different clothes, opinions and ideas than mine.  I saw people who need to know Jesus and I realized that the chances of them finding Him in a culture like that are very slim if Christians don't give them the time of day based on their appearance. Instead of cringing and judging, I was praying for them and connecting with them.  They just want to be loved...just like everyone else.  It's our deepest human need.

The day after we returned home, I was reading a devotional and came across this poem...

I dreamed death came the other night;
And heaven's gates swung wide.
With kindly grace an angel
Ushered me inside.
And there, to my astonishment,
Stood folks I'd judged and labeled
Unfit or of little worth.
Indignant words rose to my lips,
But never were set free;
For every face showed stunned surprise...
No one expected me!  (author unknown)

How many young people seek Truth by going into a church only to be told they need to change their hair, clothes or jewelry in order to attend?  How many young people would never go near a church because that was the place they felt the most judged and condemned?  What about the young person who is in a deep struggle and the only one who is reaching out to them is the one who has a pipe in one hand and a new age philosophy in the other?  How many kids are just waiting for us to see past their facade and into their heart? How will we ever see it, though, if we are avoiding them and judging them?

Oh, I pray God will keep me focused on what matters in this life!  Appearances are not what God is interested in.  It's a heart thing.  If I'm so focused on what others look like on the outside and base my opinions of them on that, I could miss a heart that is yearning and seeking God and tragically, I could miss out on the blessing of helping them to find the Truth they are seeking so desperately - Jesus Christ. 

Oh, and one more thing that I must mention.  Some of the strongest, most on-fire Christians I know have tattoos, piercings and "colorful" hair.  God not only reaches out to those who look different, but He uses those who look different, too.  Never put Him in a box...God never fits in those boxes we try to squeeze Him into.

1 Samuel 16:7...the Lord doesn't see things the way you see them.  People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

1 Corinthians 13:1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn't love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.


Kendra said...

So glad you wrote! It's a message I need to hear, especially with a teenager of my own!! (Unfortunately, I judge HER the most :( ) Whenever my nose starts sneaking up in the air, I think "Pharisee!"!! I also love the hymn "Just As I Am".... :) Thanks for writing!!...and I know I'm a little biased... but you are one of the most open-hearted, accepting people I know :)

Leslie Nease said...

Aww...thanks Kendra. :) Your heart is always so hungry for God's word and I think that is so beautiful. Thank you for posting!

Dina said...

Leslie Perfect!

1 Samuel 16:7...the Lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
Thank you for sharing that.

Kendra, all you can do is hold your teen close to you. I've gone through the samething. I learned to go with the flow, and it has made my 2 boys amazing young men.

Leslie Nease said...


Thanks so much!!

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