(That’s my boy getting his ‘do busted a while ago…but his expression was too good not to share)
I was looking shaggy. Way too shaggy for my liking. Funny that my dad used to have to beg me to cut my hair and now I can’t get it short enough. My usual spot was closed, so I popped into a new barbershop. One guy was ahead of me, so the wait wasn’t too long.
As I sat there, I took in the shop and the barber. Cool vibe, very old school. I waited patiently, wishing I could get my hair cut for the prices on the retro sign. Then my attention shifted to the guy who would cut my hair. He had a distinctly Adam Levine look going on: bleached hair (way cooler than mine), dark stubble, tats on both arms. As he shaved the neck of the dude in front of me, I picked up a few f-bombs and other various adjectives.
Yeah…I judged him pretty hard before I even met him.
My turn came, and as I took my spot in his chair, we went over the cut I wanted: thin out the top, #1 the sides and back, taper the neck, don’t touch my fledgling beard. We bantered a bit about the weather and such while I, in my “holiness,” tried to find an “in” to talk about Jesus.
That’s when Jesus humbled me.
I asked him if he grew up around here, to which he shrugged and replied: “that’s a long story.” Now, it’s his story so I won’t recount it here, except to say his family had been in ministry when he was a kid. Basically, he saw all the behind the scenes crap that shouldn’t be, what those who step behind the curtain see: the nastiness and hatefulness and legalism and pretty-much-everything-that-Jesus-railed-against.
Our current score: Matt, 0. Holy Spirit, 1.
I sat there in silence for a minute before telling him how sorry I was for all he went through, and how the way his family was treated did not sound like the Jesus of the Bible, the Jesus I knew.
As I said those things, the Spirit gently reminded me of my own judgment of my new friend just a few moments before. How I, just liked the parishioners and leaders of his childhood, had thrown stones and judgment, albeit internally.
Update: Matt, 0. Holy Spirit, 2.
I told him that I was a pastor before moving to OK. Shared the cliff notes version of our move here. We chatted on a bit more about life and family and stuff before he made a comment about something he was facing right now. He told me there was something he knew he needed to pray about because that’s where the answer to the situation lay. He said he didn’t want to pray because it hurt too much to think about it.
He asked me where I was going to church now. He knew our church, even knew some of the pastors. He had great things to say about it, this brother that “the church” had run off years before. This brother, whom I had judged like a book by its cover, had seen and been through a lot, yet he has more honesty, integrity, and probably a more real faith than many “Christians” I know.
Heck, he was more real than me.
I looked at him straight up from the outside, and then God showed me a glimpse of his heart, the only appearance He’s concerned with.
“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”” 1 Samuel 16:7 ESV
Final score: Matt, 0. Holy Spirit, 3 plus the extra point.
I’m finding there are a lot of people, especially in the south but all over, who have been “church hurt.” They may not look like you, and their stories might sound different, but they’re so worth listening to. Maybe they just need a willing ear?
And a heart that won’t judge the book by the cover.