“Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” 1 Samual 16:7
It’s Sunday morning. Dress dances around my ankles as I rush into the Dollar Store for a few last minute items before our house fills with people.
I don’t know what it was; my business, me thinking about what “I” needed, or the fact that stress alone nearly consumes me…
But my eyes fix on her, there, behind me in the checkout isle.
Black, tightly fitting clothes revealing her bra and tattoos from well…all over. Booty shorts with a guarder attached to long, fishnet stockings. Excessive weight bursting out from her scantily clothed body.
I try to “see” her, trying not to stare. Head down, her multicolored hair strung over her heavily pierced face. Day old make-up caking her face.
The first thought that came? “Street-walker. Strung out from a party she’d just waken from”. I mean after all, what was she doing in here? Didn’t she know it was Sunday?
And isn’t it funny how high heels, a little anxiety, and a week full of feeling pretty-darn-good about yourself, can turn a heart from saint to sinner; Jesus loving to people condemning….revealing judgments and criticisms hidden, like a monster, in places resurrecting from a place we don’t see.
Yet, before I really stop to understand who she is, I prance out the door, filled with more than the party supplies I came for. In the depth of my soul, hid an ugliness I had never known…the kind you don’t dish out at parties, on Sunday.
But finally, my lack of Philippians 4:8 mind, gripped me. I started repenting.
I mean, how did this monster of criticism resurrect, taking a “normal” Christian, and changing her into one of “those” judging, critical, self-righteous people”?
You know…the ones we all detest.
See, the thing about criticism is that it hides, lurks, quite frequently waits to show its ugly head when no one’s looking; disguising its existence with pity, a prayer request, sympathy, or even a smile and a fancy dress.
But in reality, judgment rips and scars, divides, and pierces; being the same spirit behind those who exalted themselves, justifying their reasoning for putting Jesus to death on the cross.
The only remedy? Humbling ourselves. Repenting. Remembering who we were before Jesus rescued us.
In my twenties, I lived blocks from where prostitutes walked in Seattle. I have always loved the “different”, compelled by originality, curious as to what makes people “tick”.
Yet, what happened to me? How did I become someone who now plays God, judging between who is “good” and “bad” simply by how they look, on the outside.
Worse yet…Where had this monster of piety been hiding? And why had I never seen it before?
Didn’t the Great Physician come to heal? And how can we reach the world, if we can’t even love the ones God puts in front of us…here, now, in our very own neighborhoods?
Living missionally requires our heart of hearts to purge themselves from secretly harboring the monster of criticism and judgment.
The Bible talks about a feast. (Luke 14:1-24) Jesus tells about how the master prepared the table and told his servants to invite others to eat. Everyone makes excuses. The master gets mad. Then He says, “Go, invite the poor, crippled, blind, and lame”.
And they came and ate the fullness of what the Master had.
Oh, let us not forget, “the first will be last, and the last will be first.” (Matt 20:16) And that those who are most needy, are the exact ones, Jesus came to die for.
Even if it’s me…disguised in high heels.
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented fifteen kids and counting; twelve foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world desperately needing the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women’s. Jen advocates for the orphan as a board member for the non-profit, A New Song; and loves doing missions work internationally, along with her family. You can find Jen writing about faith, while challenging her readers at her blog, Rich Faith Rising, as well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Jen is also on facebook.
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