I came across a funny story this week about a little boy who had reached the age of four and, much to his parents’ frustration, still had not given up his habit of sucking his thumb. His mother had tried everything from bribery to reasoning to painting his thumb with lemon juice to discourage the habit, but all to no avail.
Finally, in her desperation, she tried threats, warning her son that, “If you don’t stop sucking your thumb, your stomach is going to blow up like a balloon.”
Later that day, walking in the park, mother and son saw a pregnant woman sitting on a bench. The 4-year-old considered her gravely for a minute, then walked up to her and said loud enough for all around to hear, “Uh oh! I know what you’ve been doing!”
My guess is there was a red-faced mom trying to explain to the expectant mother-to-be that her son was a little more innocent than his words may have suggested. Still, the story illustrates something that I have been reminded of on a couple of occasions this week.
Often, first impressions are not what they seem. With our limited information and understanding, we make judgments of others based purely on what we are able to see from the outside. It is only when we hear what Paul Harvey would call “the rest of the story” that we determine that things are usually a little more complicated. That’s not to say that sometimes things aren’t self-evident, but that we would all do well not to “judge a book by its cover”–or people either.
More importantly, the implications for us as the church as we seek to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus to a hurting world around us, are that we must see the needs behind the problems, and to minister His grace accordingly. It’s easy for us to get on our high horses and look at the broken people around us with condescension, as if somehow we can feel better about ourselves as we look down on others. But when we see people as Jesus saw them, and love them as He did, we are often surprised at what we are able to see below the surface. And quite honestly, seeing and loving like that will rock your world.
My hope and prayer for The Church at Shelby Crossings is that we will be a constant reflection of the love of Jesus Christ to our community. That is quite a daunting challenge, but one for which He will empower us if we only ask. Who knows the difference He’ll make in us, and through us, as we allow Him to do just that?
I’m praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.