I have been pondering lately “realness”. Being real. Being who and what GOD called you to be. Now, every once in a while, we can get confused with who we are and what we are called to be. We let influences of others and influences of life structure our decisions; structure our life.
As a “youth leader”, I have told countless kids to not worry about what others thought.Be who you are in Christ. HE will shine through, and that is what matters the most. That has been my stand for years. I guess because I struggled so much with self confidence and self love, it was almost like a mission for me to make sure they knew.
As of late, it has come to my attention that no matter how old you get, people are gonna talk about you and judge you. They are gonna pick out the smallest things to criticize, and they will blow them up as big as others will let them. People, even you and I, have preferences – have annoyances, have likes and dislikes. We voice them, it is our God given right – freedom of speech.
The thing is, our words (our opinions/preferences) can cut or build up. They can deposit in ones life, or with drawl. It is the cuts and with drawls that destroy. They can destroy a spirit, a heart,a dream – even a life.
As a Christian, I should be staining to watch what I say and how I say it. It is NOT my place to say “Because you look a certain way God can’t possibly move through you.” Or, a “nicer” way (but still equally as judgmental) is “I just don’t think your style is necessarily what we need.” The heart is saying “In my opinion, you are not good enough. You have to look like I think you should like. You have to act the way I think you should act. You can only be used in a church position if you fit my criteria.” What kind of representation of God is that? Jesus used fishermen, tax collectors and farmers as disciples. Not the “holy men” of the church. He used the woman at the well to teach about his unending love and mercy. He used a woman who was marked “unclean” due to a hemorrhage to demonstrate healing and persistence. He used a woman caught in the act – CAUGHT IN THE ACT – to show his mercy and how no matter what your station in life, he would rescue you. Now, I know he changed their hearts and no doubt their actions, but I’m sure he didn’t tell them they couldn’t LOOK a certain way. It was their INSIDE he was worried about. He wanted his disciples to teach about God’s love, his forgiveness, his provision, his desire for people to find him, love him, live for him and teach others the same. How then is taking your preferences and setting them as a standard for ministry ANYTHING close to a model of God’s love? It’s not. Just because someone may have a tattoo, a piercing, or multiples of either of those, does NOT mean God is not working or cannot work through them.
In Matthew 15, the pharisees come to Jesus questioning his disciples protocol. Why didn’t they wash their hands before eating? Jesus answers them by calling them out :
“1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, 2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— 6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
8 ‘ These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
10 When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” 12 Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” 15 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.” 16 So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
Unwashed hands do not defile a man. A piercing does not defile a person. A tattoo does not defile a man. A hair style, an accent, jewelry does not defile a person. It is the things of the HEART that defile a person. Bitterness, anger, lies . . . those things defile.
These days it is MOST important to show God’s love to others. To love on people no matter what. To not stand in judgement because of what you prefer or don’t prefer. Instead of looking at the outside, examine the inside, look for the fruits of the person. Jesus speaks about that too, Matthew 7:17. Matthew 7 BEGINS by saying do not judge. Verse 12 states the famous quote “do unto others . . .”! Here we are, the FIRST book of the New Testament, with Jesus speaking about loving others! Shouldn’t that be OUR cue, that hey, this is important?
Be real. Be you. Love God and let God love you. Do not WORRY about others and their “preferences”. Instead seek out God’s preferences. That is where, when the whole world stands in judgement, you will find peace, rest and most importantly – UNCONDITIONAL love. Put your self worth, your dreams, your life in HIS hands. He loves you no matter what you look like and his only preference is that you love him.