SCRIPTURE: Romans 14:13a (CEB) – larger reading Romans 14:13-23
So stop judging each other.
Dodie Gadient, a schoolteacher for thirteen years, decided to travel across America and see the sights she had taught about. Traveling alone in a truck with camper in tow, she launched out. One afternoon rounding a curve on I-5 near Sacramento in rush-hour traffic, a water pump blew on her truck. She was tired, exasperated, scared, and alone. In spite of the traffic jam she caused, no one seemed interested in helping.
"Leaning up against the trailer, she prayed, 'Please God, send me an angel . . . preferably one with mechanical experience.' Within four minutes, a huge Harley drove up, ridden by an enormous man sporting long, black hair, a beard and tattooed arms. With an incredible air of confidence, he jumped off and, without even glancing at Dodie, went to work on the truck. Within another few minutes, he flagged down a larger truck, attached a tow chain to the frame of the disabled Chevy, and whisked the whole 56-foot rig off the freeway onto a side street, where he calmly continued to work on the water pump.
The intimidated schoolteacher was too dumbfounded to talk. Especially when she read the paralyzing words on the back of his leather jacket: 'Hell's Angels -- California'. As he finished the task, she finally got up the courage to say, "Thanks so much," and carry on a brief conversation. Noticing her surprise at the whole ordeal, he looked her straight in the eye and mumbled, "Don't judge a book by its cover. You may not know who you're talking to." With that, he smiled, closed the hood of the truck, and straddled his Harley. With a wave, he was gone as fast as he had appeared.
We all do it… don’t we? We see the outer shell of a person and pass a quick judgment. Even though scripture clearly states that we shouldn’t, we still do… regularly.
When we see a person with tons of tattoos – do we see the tattoos or the person? When we see someone with all sorts of body piercings – do we see the piercings or the person? When we see a black person do we see the color of his/her skin or do we see a person? When we see two men or two women kissing do we see homosexuals or do we see two people in love? When we see a homeless person holding up a sign asking for donations, do we see a lazy homeless person or someone in need of a hand up?
We do it all the time. This tendency of ours becomes a barrier that keeps us separated, isolated and far less than what God has called us to be. “Don’t judge a book by its cover. You make not know who you are talking to.” Wise words for a very unlikely source, but why should his comment surprise us? Because he was a member of Hell’s Angels or rode a Harley or a had a beard?
Romans scripture says – stop it – period. It does say, “try to stop” or “make every effort not to judge” or “do what you can to stop” … it just plain out states: Stop it! End of story. If we empowered by the Holy Spirit… well, you get the picture.
Okay, you’ve communicated to us in no uncertain terms. We are going to stop right now, this very moment. From this moment on we are going to see people – not women people, not Arab people, not Republican or Democratic people, not gay people, not homeless people, not black/red/yellow people … we are going to see just God created people. People that Christ came to die for.
Note: Starting on Monday, June 30th I will be taking a three-week vacation from writing my daily blog. Thanks for continuing to read these simple words from an old preacher.