Anyway, so here I was, paranoid because I hadn't come to a complete stay-at-the-stop-sign-for-a-full-ten-seconds-until-the-whole-car-jerks-because-your-wheels-have-stopped-turning stop (which is no big deal in the major world of driving, but to Little Town PD could be considered a terrible offense), since I noticed the cop after I had already started turning. Ugh! I continued to drive, making my way out to the main drag of the development (driving EXACTLY 20 mph)...and he wasn't following me. Hmm. Next thing I knew, he was riding my tail. (He would have to have sped to catch up with me for how far I came without him following me. Just sayin'.) Ugh! No, no, no! I was frustrated. I can't get a ticket! I can't afford it. My parents can't afford our insurance going up...ugh! I was venting my feelings at my sister in the front seat. as the cop continued to ride me without turning on his lights. "Why doesn't he just turn his lights on and get it over with???" My sister tried to soothe me, "Amy, you didn't do anything wrong. He's not turning his lights on because he's not going to pull you over." (Consequently, she was in the vehicle with me both times that I got pulled over, so she knows the boredom as well as I do--but since her record and bank account weren't at risk, was not nervous or paranoid like me.) Ah, the voice of reason. But that didn't stop me from my frantic glances in the rear view mirror.
All that to say, I did not get pulled over. Having committed no offense, that's not a big surprise.
I made a prejudgment about the cop before I had any sort of interaction with him to judge how to respond. I automatically assumed that all cops are the same, that they are all bored, waiting to bust somebody for some petty offense. That they enjoy ticketing people, that they like to watch me squirm over nothingness.
I went to a Leeland concert at a church about a week ago. Lines of kids and teens laughed loudly, pushed and shoved each other obnoxiously, waiting for the doors to be opened to get into the concert. Some started chanting, "Let us in! Let us in!" I just rolled my eyes and felt old. (Yeah, almost 20--surrounded by junior highschoolers...) When I got up to the door with my conservative looking entourage we were greeted by the youth leader.
I observed him as he informed me of the concert situation... He had shaggy, longish hair, a beard, two nose rings, tattoos on both arms, and tight denim shorts. And he wasn't the only one. Everywhere I looked there were adults with piercings, and covered in tattoos...many of them Christian tattoos. I felt awkward and out of place. (Well, until the music started :P)
I prejudged them all.
Poor dears, they haven't been informed yet.
Oh, poor thing. He's going to regret those tattoos once he's convicted.
Poor girl in that miniskirt! She hasn't arrived yet. Doesn't she realize it's not attractive anyway?
Wow. Instead of seeing past the outside, instead of judging according to word and deed, I prejudged them based on their physical appearances. And what's worse: I assumed that I had arrived. That God had "enlightened" me, and that they had simply not "gotten there yet". Ouch. If that's not convicting, I don't know what is.
I was smug and skeptical as the youth leader got up on stage and preached Jesus. And the opening band, lead guitarist covered in tattoos, proclaimed His name.
What was I thinking? Anyone who preaches Christ and Christ crucified, and the cleansing power of His blood is my brother or sister--regardless of how many tattoos or piercings cover their body. It's not my job to prejudge appearances!
My dad reminded me, "These are people that we will be shoulder to shoulder with in heaven crying, 'Holy!' Dare we judge them because they are different from us?"
Sure, God has convicted my family of certain things. We have our standards of the way that we believe that God would have us to live. But when we get to the point where we want to throw our convictions and standards at everyone else and expect them to comply, or else they're not saved, is a dangerous position.
"For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." ~Romans 12:3
"But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." ~Romans 14:10
My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. ~James 2:1-13 (NKJV)
Do you think that James was merely talking about the monetarily rich or poor here? Could it be that he could also be referring to the spiritually rich and poor as well?
It is God's job to convict, it's my job to love. Is there a time that we may need to rebuke a brother or a sister in Christ on something? Absolutely. But each situation is to be handled carefully, correctly applying the concept of Matthew 18, and should be addressing a direct offense against the objective Word of God.
None of us have arrived. I will continue to be sanctified until the day that I reach the pearly gates. I have so much yet to learn, to be convicted of, to raise the standards of, to continue to be refined in the way of holiness in Jesus Christ. How dare I try to "fix" those around me by forcing them to comply to the little that I know, when God is already at work in them? God has called me to love the brethren and leave the refining up to Him.