Tuesday, July 24, 2007
You move into a new home and see your neighbors for the first time. You wave, hoping to catch their eye and make a good first impression, but either they didn’t see or don’t care. Deflated, you turn away. Negative thoughts spring to mind. “They must be snobs. Great, now I won’t have any friends here.”
You go to the mall and see a pack of teenagers, skater dudes with emu haircuts and black clothes. They weave into your child, nearly knocking him down. You clamp your teeth together and give them a look. “Those kids are up to no good. Where are the parents?”
A new employee shows up to work that you’ve only known on email. He/she is vastly overweight. “Wow. No self-control there.” The thought rolls through your brain, effortlessly.
You see a woman in her 40’s squeezed into clothes too tight and young. You internally roll your eyes. “There’s a candidate for an Oprah makeover.”
Or, you attend the first meeting for a women’s Bible study and the leader is dressed in a frumpy jumper with her hair in a bun. “Oh great. This is going to fun.”
Most of us struggle with snap judgments like these, but Isaiah prophesied about Someone (Jesus) who would come and show us a different way to think.
2 "The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord-- 3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,” (Isa. 11:1-4)
Then Jesus gives us a directive as his followers:
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." (Luke 6:37)
My prayer is that Jesus will give me insight into the heart of a person, and then His love for them will overflow through me toward them. It takes years to really get to know someone and usually, after spending some time with them, we discover that first impressions are only an outward expression of a need, brokenness, a floundering identity, or just an expression of creativity. Even the people who look perfect on the outside have made a conscious decision to put that identity out there. In the old days, people dressed to express their class, their place in society. It’s not so different today, (think designer clothes and purses!) although today people are able to express their individuality, their personality too.
So next time you see a women bending over in her low-rise jeans sporting a tattoo on her lower back, I challenge us to retrain our immediate reaction and think instead, “I bet she’s a great person, adventurous and fun, someone God created in His own imagine,” and just give her a smile.