On the recent trip to San Diego I wrote about in my last post we were blessed by a couple getting us a hotel room there with some travel points they had. It made it so wonderful to be able to stay in a place with a pool and not have to rush 2–3 hours back to Los Angeles late at night after the reception. While at the hotel that night we had a special time with the girls going into the pool and whirlpool late at night (for us). While near the pool there were a few guys sitting around, one of whom was smoking a cigar and the smell was hard to escape. Then, when we got to our room, we found the smoke from the cigar rising and floating in our open door and we had to close it instead of leaving it open.
I found myself a little irritated, and judging the man. Then, the next morning, we found out there was an AA convention at the hotel, and I had the thought . . . what if that man had lost his family and maybe everything to an alcohol addiction and he was at the convention, turning his life around, and smoking a cigar was his only way to combat the urge to drink? What if that cigar was the price to pay to see a man's life restored, a father and husband brought back, and a life turned around?
Now, I realize there are ways that are simply courtesy, and I am not saying that nothing is right or wrong, but after having that thought (which I don't know if it was even remotely true or not) I thought . . . if that was the case I would sure find my heart toward that man different.
We never really know what is someone's story, someone's past, or someone's reason. How often I've assumed something or thought something only to find it had no basis in truth. The Bible makes it clear how careful we must be not to judge others. We can be discerning, but judgment is another thing. God knows the heart. We don't.
I have met many Christians who were "rough around the edges" and didn't "behave" quite "properly" in church. And I've met many Christians whose noses go up at that. But, I wonder, if in many cases we could see how far the "rough" Christian has come in their walk based on where they were when they came to the Lord, and how far the judgmental ones have matured from where they came to the Lord, we just might find that the "rough" ones have come a lot farther than the "proper" ones in their walk.
I've always said our fellowship is a workshop, not a museum. If we can't, as Christians, find (and offer) a place for all people to grow in the love of Christ then we have missed what it is all about. I am reminded of when Chuck Smith reportedly threatened to rip out the carpet of his church building because elders were concerned about the "rough" ones off the beach tracking in stuff and ruining it. May we never care more about "carpet" than people.