I actually started writing this one on Wednesday, because that's when this true story happened. But didn't get around to posting it until today. I was a bit self-conscious about a lot of it, so I thought I would run it by some people first. At work, Terry said I should post it. So here goes.
I had one of the most amusing and entertaining days ever. I particularly appreciated it due to the last few rather stressful weeks that I have had to endure. The icing on the cake was what happened on my way home from downtown.
I was semi-stuck in traffic coming south on 35W, when I got neck & neck with a fellow to my left. I looked over at him and noticed that he was pretty much oblivious to everything around him. How can I state this as a fact? Well, because as I watched him I noticed that he was dancing in his Toyota and singing along at the the top of his lungs to Journey's "Any way you want it." Now THAT'S funny!!!
Naturally, what immediately popped into my head was a scene from one of my favorite movies.
I'll tell you why I was so entertained this morning in a little bit, but first I should put some context on it. So, let's begin on the exercise bike at the gym this morning...
I was listening to another one of my podcasts as I worked my way into a beautiful stink of sweat. Rick McKinley was preaching through Matthew 7: 1-6, which is all about how we have to be so careful about judging other people when we usually have so many issues on our own plates. "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measures you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?...You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye..."
A couple of quick thoughts on that:
#1. The Greek word for "Judge" being used here is the word "Krino." It can be used in a few different ways. One way to use it is in a legal matter, i.e. as in rendering decision as to wether an action was legal or illegal. Another way to use it is as making a decision, i.e. "I'd like the Big & Tasty, and not the Quarter Pounder, thank you very much." The last way is to look at a person and make a value judgment on their very essence of their being.
It's should come as no surprise that Jesus uses "Krino" in the context of the last of those three uses. Jesus doesn't particularly like it when we make value judgments about others for three reasons...in my opinion. First off, when it comes to rendering a Final Judgment on anyone, that would be HIS job, and no one else's. Second, no person on the planet is above his redeeming power. (We might not like it, but he can redeem the worst, sickening and depraved murderer there is if that person is willing to repent...even in his/her last dying moments.) Finally, when we make such deep judgments about others, we are actually setting ourselves up as gods. That was the original sin...wanting to be just like God. It's probably a good idea to stay away from that scenario.
BTW: I tend to be very guilty of this third one. I can be a brutally judgmental person at times.(Drive with me some time. You'll see.)
#2. Jesus never tells us NOT to judge. He tells us not to do it hypocritically.
Obviously there are times where you need to state plainly that something is wrong. When you know that someone desires to steal from someone or someplace, you have a responsibility to tell them it is wrong to do so. When you see someone hurting someone else, you simply must intervene and stop it.
Also rather obvious, it would seem silly to tell your friend not to get stoned or sleep around if you are doing the very same thing.
#3. For Believers, judging is ultimately NOT about punishment. It is actually about HEALING. When someone is caught up in a sinful situation, they do not need someone to mercilessly beat them over the head. What they need is someone to come along side them, correct them, and then help them get out of that situation and back on track with God's preferred will.
Jesus understands that the best folks to help someone stuck in sin are those who have been honest about their own struggles. A Believer who is honest enough to acknowledge that they have some serious messes in their own life are good at helping others. This is the principle of any type of Alcoholics Anonymous style program. They won't claim any type of superiority over the other. They know that their doo-doo stinks.
"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? "I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."" Jeremiah 17:9 & 10
"Examine yourselves to see wether you are in the faith: test yourselves. You you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?" 2 Corinthians 13:5
That's pretty good advice from a Prophet and Paul. We should examine ourselves. I can't speak for anyone else, but thanks to the freakish way my brain is wired, I am constantly thinking & re-thinking my actions and motives. Some people use the phrase, "Hate the sin, love the sinner." I actually heard another one that I like even better; "Love the sinner, hate your OWN sin." I REALLY hate my sins. More to the point, I hate my sinful nature. No matter what I do, I can't get rid of my propensity for sin. What I have concluded is that I am a big ol' mess, and that I need a massive savior to rescue me.
I am firmly convinced that Jesus did exactly that for me. As such, I can get a better view of the big perspective on things. Because of this I can honestly say in all comfort & security that I am just a guy...no better or worse than anyone else...just a guy. Life is too short to be a stuffed shirt, and no person who follows Jesus has any business thinking or acting like they are "All that & a bag of Chips." I take myself Serious, but not SeriousLY...if that makes any sense.
Thanks to that, I had a lot of fun this morning.
So why did I have such an entertaining time this morning?
Well, and I write this with some hesitation, my Dad pushed me into "Modeling" this summer.(Yeah, shocking I know.) Now listen, I am in no way saying this to brag. And as you read on, you'll know why I mean that.
First off, my Dad is a model. He's a handsome guy, but he's no Brad Pitt. Apparently he looks like a doctor or a lawyer, so he gets a couple of gigs a year posing as one. He has been pestering me for ages to do try this. I've resisted because I HATE pictures of myself and didn't want to be embarrassed. But at this point, I'd sell myself for medical experiments if it helped me pay the bills. So.............
Second, I am no Brad Pitt either. In fact, I think I look like Shrek...with slightly better ears and a tad more hair. However, as I explained to the photographer today, "If you need someone who looks like they could hold a plunger or be comfortable next to a grill, I'M YOUR GUY!" Someone has to unclog the biffy and look realistic while doing so. I'll never get rich. But I still have a credit card to pay off.
So you understand, modeling has virtually NOTHING to do with what you think it is. Firstly, it has almost nothing to do with fashion or walking about on a runway in your underwear. It's actually nothing more than advertisements for every day products. Those TV shows about models are a pipe dream because they are selling a fantasy. The average advertiser wants someone who looks like a regular person and would use the product that they are selling.
The truth is that LOOKS MEAN VIRTUALLY NOTHING! (I should be proof of that.) What any photographer is looking for is someone who looks like they would fit a part. You might be butt-ugly, but you would be perfect in an advertisement as a dude working the hog barn at the State Fair. Maybe you're a gangly, skinny 13 yr old boy...but you look exactly like a Skater Kid for a new line of boards that Target is selling. That's really what it is all about. I can promise you that you will not be hanging out with Tyra Banks any time soon. (This also means that you ought to give it a try. The worst that could happen is that they laugh at and mock you...and make you cry)
So anyway, I was asked to go to a casting call Wednesday morning. Because of the way I view myself and the world, I could barely stop giggling the entire time. I simply couldn't take any of it very seriously. I'm still brand-spankin' new to all of this anyway, so that probably makes it much more of an adventure, too.
I pulled up in the parking lot, and next to me was a guy who was at least 50lbs over weight...and HE'S a model. (I saw his resume'. Dude gets a lot of gigs.) I went in to the waiting area where everyone else was and got a good look at everything. There were all sorts of people being photographed.
It appeared to me that the folks there seemed to break down into three basic types. 1) I was amazed at how nervous so many people were. One dude, who would have qualified as a "Beautiful Person," was practically sweating buckets. 2) Then there were the folks who were very into themselves. Posh people who really thought that their essence should grace every perfume bottle and bag of potato chips. (I know what you're thinking. YES, I did want to dump a bucket of cottage cheese over their heads.) 3) The "Moms." Ladies who seemed to understand that this was all just a just a lark to make a few extra bucks, and that after it was over they needed to purchase some lunch meat on the way home. (I liked them.)
As I said before, it was all just an amusing adventure for me. I had a great time talking to the lady who took the pictures. I told her a bunch of my incredibly stupid jokes, and we were both cracking up. It was all just so funny to me.
Seriously, the idea that at some point down the road, someone might give me a couple of bucks to have a picture of my ear...or of me sneezing for some tissue box, is absurdly funny to me. How could anyone not be entertained by such a thought?
More to the point, because of my understanding of where my position is in the universe thanks to what Jesus did for me and is still doing, I view all of that as what it really is; a brief moment of fun...nothing more and nothing less. Every single person in that photographer's studio will age, get wrinkles, have moments of delight & despair, and eventually pass away. They can't do much about youthful looks withering away. It happens to us all, and every day I see the evidence when I look in the mirror.
Seems to me that it is wiser to enjoy moments like that on Wednesday, but to invest in things that can last. God cares very deeply about the inside of a person. That much is very clear from scripture. He sees right through the exterior facades that we put up. It's better to examine ourselves and cling to things that really matter. We need to take a deep long look and judge our insides. Turn over the garbage that we try to hide to the one who can heal us. Jesus longs to do exactly that. The question we need to answer on a daily basis is whether or not we will give our junk to him.
It's just a thought.