There’s an image circulating around the internet in various forms right now that has become quite popular: an apparently homeless man sitting with a sign that says “keep your coins, I want change.” I know that whenever I see a person on the side of the rode with a sign I usually skim right over whatever it is the sign says, in my mind they are either homeless, or scamming people; regardless they are trying to take my money.
But this is exactly the type of attitude that Paul says the Galatians were able to overcome when he preached the gospel to them. He says that despite his personal appearance he was welcomed and the people turned towards God because they could recognize the fact that Paul was relaying Truth. In the same way as Paul’s’ appearance caused the Galatians to force themselves to look past the surface I would suggest that the aforementioned image is a modern-day exercise in the principle of actually paying attention to what another person is saying, and to assess it for truth.
I say that it is an exercise in paying attention to what another is saying because appearances may be anything. For some appearances might be physical, for others appearances might be political parties, income, or even choice of friends. In today’s age when people have so many different non-tangible aspects to their identity I feel it is especially important to “look” beyond appearances and address the person, not the image; and one of these ways is through the church.
Church is, ideally, a time for many to look beyond the differences of the people surrounding them, but so often we either stop doing so as soon as we get to the pavement of the parking lot, or those we associate with church become further insulation against truly seeing the message others from without our usual circles might bring to us. But church does not have to be such a place, church can teach us the Truth to look for when we talk to others, it can teach us how to treat those who are not showing Truth in their statements or actions; if we listen to those around us and if we absorb the Word presented to us we can begin to see the Truth God has put around us, regardless of how it may appear.
May we see His Truth in a place we would not normally look.