So this morning after a few hectic (but fun!) days at the Cherish Conference, I checked out of my hotel and went in search of breakfast.
It was a lovely, sunny start to the day, so I fancied a large frothy latte and preferably while sitting in the sunshine at a pavement cafe. And bingo, there it was, sparkling in the distance, a quaint little bistro with a breakfast deal.
As I walked in, I paused for just a fraction of a nanosecond (and then tried to make it look like I hadn’t paused) because, standing at the counter waiting to be served, were two guys, who I’m guessing (based on their bags and clothes) were homeless.
I tell you that I paused (and then tried to make it look like I hadn’t paused) to illustrate the immediate wrestle in my brain which went something like this:
They’ve fallen on tough times….must be unimaginable to sleep rough.
I want a coffee and a sandwich…I want to sit outside…oh, they’re sitting outside too….I have an expensive iPad in my bag….
Just because someone is homeless, doesn’t make them a thief….you stuck-up whatsits. What would Jesus do???.
Ah but Jesus would have known whether they were good people or not…I don’t….maybe I should sit INSIDE.
But wait….Cherish was all about showing grace, kindness, mercy…how can you act as though you’re somehow better????
“Excuse me love…” said one of the chaps. “Do you happen to have….”
(Oh, here we go….he wants money….I knew it…”
“….any brown sauce….?”
Oops, wasn’t talking to me, but to the gal behind the counter.
Moment of red shame crossed my face, for my blatant prejudice, based on nothing except simply how they were dressed.
And isn’t that the problem? I (we?) look at a person and we form an opinion of their value, based on what they’re wearing or driving or where they’re living. But the reality is, my iPad could just as easily be nicked by a designer-dressed opportunist. But because he/she doesn’t look like a thief, I’d pay less attention.
And in answer to the question, WWJD?
Well, to me it’s simple. Heaven has a different economic system to us. Heaven’s economic system ignores the clothes and the living situation and the outward actions….and it gets straight to the heart. God has an uncomfortable way of not seeing the externals and instead, seeing only what’s going on spiritually and emotionally. Looking at clothes and material possessions is a very flawed way to judge a person’s character.
There are plenty of bitter, angry, thieving homeless people. But equally, there are plenty of bitter, angry, thieving people who live in beautiful houses too.
We’re all just people, some with a better standard of living than others.
And yet I (we?) persist in choosing the world’s system for determining a person’s value.
I wish I didn’t. I wish I’d sat outside that cafe and talked to those two chaps, instead of wandering off, with a takeaway breakfast.
I’m working on this. I’m not there yet…but I’m working on it.