We had an unusual baptism at church this Sunday. Three people were baptized- in a horse trough- on the church's stage. ( the horse trough seeming to be a practical solution to needing a baptismal when we first started the church, about five years ago- and now it is kind of a non traditional tradition)
The unusual thing about the baptism this week was two of the three baptized, were heavily covered in tattoos and one had rather pointy spikes coming out of each ear.
As I was a witnessed to this- I thought about judgement- not the judgement that God places on us, but the judgement we place on each other.
How many stories and parable and lessons are in the pages of the bible-pleading with us to not judge others? To not look at the outside and make our determinations by what someone looks like-tattoos? or does-drinks? or says-we all are idiots! But we do-all of us.
Of course writers of stories have encouraged such judgement of the "outside" with the notions of the guy in the white hat verse the guy in the black- or the antagonist having the sinister look to him, where the hero is almost angelic.
J.K. Rowling- did a marvelous job in Harry Potter- with the character of Severus Snape- a greasy, cranky, black character that appears to be the bad guy until it come out he is protecting Harry- though he does not like him.
So what is the church to do- on dealing with the outward?
because- It is very, very easy to change our outward appearance and "appear" way more Holy- way more Perfect- then we are.
In fact- "The Holiness Movement" or the idea of "Christian Perfection" has swept through our world- in the forms of the Puritans, the Quakers, etc.- with the idea we can come pretty close to living without blemish-
Now- what if inside you don't really feel that Holy- one is still able to look the part- say the right things- do the right things- abstain from the wrong things-well- at least when others are looking-and appear as "Holy" as your neighbor-or better yet- a tad bit more "Holy".
We are mere mortals- we do not have the ability to look inside ones soul- to make a determination of what others feel or think or what their intent is- so what are we left with- what they look like, what they say, what they do-
Only God has the power to look into one's soul-
Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Will we ever stop looking on the outside to make a judgement of the inside- probably not. Just this week- I judged someone- decided they were uneducated, rural and probably not that interesting- then found out I was very wrong and needed to take a second look-
We all need to take a second look- or third look- or just have GRACE- which loosely defined is to just have faith that Their Master- is working on them- just like He is working on us- we need to do our own jobs- instead of providing those around us with a checklist on how they need to improve themselves!