I realized something the other day. I had parked behind our local thrift shop and noticed that in front of a nearby trashy, run down apartment building, someone’s clothing and a few other belongings had been tossed outside on the ground. While I was still in my car, a person emerged from the apartment, and headed over to his car which I had parked next to. He was a sight to see… filthy clothing, long dirty hair, an ashen pock-marked face, and smoking a cigarette. His jeans were tightly cinched at the waist so that his body looked more like a woman, but I am sure it was a man. He crawled into his car as I was getting out of mine. Our eyes met, and I said hello. He responded with a “hello” also.
He was the type of person that was easy for me to find repulsive. (Hear me out, now!) He lived in a dump, wore dirty clothing, and appeared as if he led a dark life. My first thought was to ignore him and forget him, but other thoughts entered my mind: He is the way he is, he leads the life he leads, he dresses the way he dresses, because he does not have God in his life.
“There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:10-18.
Yet, even though he does not have God in his life, he is a human being with the same needs as I have, and he can feel the same hurts I do. He is not less than me because of the way he looks, in fact, before I met Jesus, I may have looked good on the outside, but my heart was just as dark and needy as this person’s was. As I glanced at that pile of clothing on the ground against the dirty apartment building, I thought I may have seen a toy or two. What sort of life must a child have to endure that lived in such a situation? Surely a child would suffer in that sort of environment, and it would be through no fault of his own. These people deserve acknowledgement and kindness just as anyone else does.
This realization–that people are the way they are because of having or not having Jesus in their hearts— has given me new eyes, a new heart, and a new understanding. I’ve seen a person instead of a “thing” to be dismissed and ignored. When I’ve looked down on those “less desirable” in the past, I’ve had them acknowledge me with a polite hello or smile. I have been ashamed by my imagined self-importance.
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 3: 23.
Every single one of us needs the forgiveness of God. Even me! And I need to show others the grace that God has shown me. I am convicted.