I work with my church’s youth group. It is a great group of teens who truly seek to know God better.
We have been working through Ephesians and through a book called “Your Own Jesus” by Mark Hall (Lead Singer of Casting Crowns).
In Ephesians 5 we talked about how God calls us to be like him and respond to other like He would. We do this by following the example of Jesus. Likewise in chapter 5 of “Your Own Jesus”, Mark Hall talks about how we have to see others through our “God Lenses”. God does’t see the outside appearance of a person, He sees the heart. When we judge people because of social stereotypes we miss the individual and we miss the opportunity to share Jesus through our attitudes and actions.
When we put on our glasses, we honor the Lord by seeing people not as groups or races or stereotypes but as unique, beautiful, valuable individuals.
~Mark Hall “Your Own Jesus”
This got me thinking. How many amazing people in ministry don’t look like what you would peg a pastor or an evangelist as looking like? How many every day looking people are among the most dangerous people in history?
And so I devised a test.
I split the teens into two groups and gave them each the above six pictures. I did not give them names or history of each photo, i just asked them to look at the photos and chose weather they would think the people were safe or unsafe.
One of the girls recognized photo #1 and decided the everyday looking people had to be the dangerous ones.
The boys were more interesting to listen to. Number 2 they decided had to be unsafe because he looked like he was with poachers. And they decided #5 had to be safe because he looked like Dog the Bounty Hunter.
So who are these people?
1.) James Warren Jones – Cult Leader of the People’s Temple who committed mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978.
2. Sam Chiders “Machine Gun Preacher” – He was at one point an armed guard for drug dealers, he became a christian and on encouragement of his pastor went to southern sudan as a missionary. He feel in love with the country and had a heart for the children left orphaned by the war that waged down there. Often said he would sleep with a bible in one hand and a machine gun in the other. His family helped fund the building of an orphanage in southern sudan that over the years has fed and housed over 1,000 orphaned children. They did this at risk of losing their own home because they couldn’t afford both. They still live in the same home.
#3 Theodore Bundy – one of America’s most prolific serial killers. They know of at least 35 victims in washington, colorado, and florida. When asked if those 35 were the only ones his response was “add a digit” authorities have no idea if that meant 36 or over 100. He took the real number of victims with him to the grave.
#4 Brian “the head” Welch – Former lead singer of Rock Metal band Korn. He became a christian, left the band to focus on his faith and his family. Released a christian metal album. Started an organization that builds orphanages in India.
#5 Pastor Z – Was arrested for selling drugs to an undercover cop, and given the choice jail or military service. After being discharged from the Navy he returned to drug use. One day he was invited to church. He said he had not interest in church or church people but went because she was “cute”. It felt to him as though the preacher knew his life story and was preaching just to him. He is the founder of Biker’s For Christ International Motorcycle Ministry.
#6 Josef Mengele – aka Dr. Death – Mengele was the Nazi doctor at Auschwitz who performed genetic testing on twins. He also chose who lived and who died in the gas chambers when they would get off the trains at the death camp.
Appearances can be deceiving, and when we cast people off because of their harsh or unconventional appearance, we could be missing a great opportunity to show God’s love to another.