I know I shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Many a rich word has been written between the pages of old, crusty and dusty covers. But I do not speak of a literal book. I think you know what I mean. I see a dirty, homeless-looking guy holding a sign in the median by Wal-Mart and immediately have thoughts of drunkenness and lack of motivation. A morbidly obese overweight woman in stretch polyester pants walks by speaking harshly to a young child and I assume she's not much of a mother. Or, I see a tattooed teenage boy trying to keep his pants up and figure he has little to offer the world. Am I right or wrong thinking these thoughts?
This is not a phenomena peculiar to my generation. My parents were suspect of boys with long hair and girls wearing bell bottom pants and leather fringe back in the day. In their minds, no self-respecting Christian young person should dress that way since there was a cultural association with the Beetles, revolution, drugs, alcohol, and free love. Was there an element of truth in their thinking? Perhaps. The masses do have a tendency to mimic the characteristics of whatever-or whoever-they fancy themselves to be. But even if the outward appearance of being a radical hippie was there, was that reason enough to hold those people at bay?
We have a son who walks to his own beat. He has pierced ears and doesn't own any real trousers, opting instead for pencil thin jeans. He is a creative, right-brained photographer who expresses himself through his work and appearance. And, he seems to attract more of the same. Recently, a girl showed up at our house with hot pink hair and a loud, interesting dress and sweater, her well-endowed features spilling out over the top. I have to be honest. It was hard not to make an instant judgment. I made it a point to speak to her, howbeit not for long since she and Seth were watching a movie. She seemed like a nice girl and had to have something on the ball; she had just turned 17, graduated early from high school and was taking college classes. Still, it was hard not to make judgments. I wish it were not so.
James strongly warned about giving preference based on outward appearance. Review it with me (James 2: 1-13) but be prepared. These are powerful words.