Saturday, May 16, 2009


Have you ever looked at old family photos or pictures of yourself from way back when? I know that when I do that I look at myself and wonder who is that person?

Maybe I’m kind of weird like that, but old pictures of me make me ask that question? We all tend to look back into our lives and use the power of hindsight. Yet hindsight can never explain the sense of mistaken identity we lived with at the time the photo was taken or the event occurred.

At any given point in our lives we think we know ourselves and we hope others know us accurately, but in all reality, time and hindsight are the only true identifiers of who we are.

Time allows for growth and change and ultimately lessons learned by mistakes or deliberate steps toward transformation. Hindsight gives us the choice of learning from our previous wanderings or winnings, so as to hopefully make us wiser in all our decisions.

Many years ago a local pastor made a judgment call about me. He based his opinions on my outward appearance and some rumors that he heard and believed to be true about me. The unfortunate fact was he did not know me. He didn’t have a clue about what made me tick or who I really was from the inside out. All he did was develop a bias and bigotry based upon externals.

It was a case of mistaken identity. I wonder how often I do the same thing. I wonder how often we drive people away from Life and Hope that only God can give, simply because we choose to identify them based upon what we see and hear.

Who among us, with the exception of a few prophets, can know the insides of someone? What motivates them? What causes them to have apathy? Why do they think and feel the way they do?

All too often it’s easier to judge someone wrongly, instead of loving them rightly. Loving them rightly means we get close enough to smell what their life has been rolled in. Most people get rolled in some pretty bad stuff and they usually don’t ask for it.

So the next time you make a mistake about someone’s identity, based upon your perception, ideology, dogma, religion, fear or the pain of your own life, remember people did the same with Jesus.

Following a wonderful and stimulating lunch with an old friend, my wife and I found ourselves savoring a fresh cup at Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure. I love places where business executives are there hashing out some new marketing plan, med students are cramming for there next exam, neo-hippies are lovingly hanging on each other and painters are welcome.

I thought about my visit to this coffee shop and some of the bars I used to frequent. The beauty of places like that is because everyone seems welcomed and no one is an outsider for very long. Regardless of their identity common ground is found. We all just wanted to be where someone else is and to have something refreshing to drink. That’s a pretty simple church growth formula.

May God help me to foster a community where common ground becomes uncommon experience? And may God help me to never again mistake someone’s identity simply because of how they look, act or what I’ve heard about them. May I earn the right to know them by spending time with them, before I make that judgment call, before it becomes a case of Mistaken Identity?

Let’s have coffee and get acquainted.

No comments:

Post a Comment