“Mom, who’s Pilate?” “He’s the big shot. Be quiet”
“I can’t see!”
“What do those words on the screen say?”
“Oh…oh…I am thirsty. I am really thirsty!”
I was at an Easter play, trying desperately to get “in the mood”, but with the running commentary going on behind me, I might as well have been in Costco watching The Passion of the Christ on their big screen TV displays while people around me munched Polish sausages.
I was getting fed up.
This mom was obviously not in control of her kid, and he was being such a distraction—I seriously contemplated turning around with a hissed, “Shh!” And I almost did it, too, but something or Someone held me back, and I decided simply to put up with the bother. But as the play unfolded, I couldn’t help but realize that the little boy’s inquisitive questions were growing more and more pointed.
“Hey, did you notice that one of the crosses is bigger than the others? Why is that?”
“What—they can’t kill Jesus! He’s God!”
“What does that sign on Jesus’ cross say?”
Before I knew it, it was intermission, and a man strode across the stage, microphone in hand. I did a double take when I saw him, but had to do a triple take when he introduced himself, “I’m the new lead pastor here at this church,” said the man with dreadlocks.
Dreadlocks! I thought. On a pastor? Never mind that they were the tidiest dreadlocks I had ever seen, pulled back tightly against his head, or that dreadlocks aren't exactly a salvation issue—I was horrified! And in that moment I was not on the side of the Jesus I had been worshipping just moments ago. I was on the side of the Pharisees whose addiction to their own self-righteousness drove nails through the hands of the Son of God. I was steeped in self-righteousness and dripping judgment.
And then the Holy Spirit said, But this pastor with dreadlocks looks no different than that handsome man with the flowing curly hair whom you just saw playing Jesus!
Truth flooded my heart and washed the self-righteousness away. I was humbled at the thought of my own hypocrisy, but God was not quite done yet.
At the very end of the play, an actor gave the salvation message and invited the audience to pray the sinner’s prayer. I was expecting that it would turn out like every other Christian event I’ve attended which has followed that format, in which peer pressure results in everyone praying but no one truly meaning it.
But then the actor surprised me. He told us that if anyone had just prayed that prayer and become a Christian, he wanted them to do a courageous thing: stand and declare to the world what the Lord had done in them. He explained the reasons for this stand, and then gave the signal. Across the dark room, courageous people rose, their new Helper giving their legs strength. Not hundreds, but at least fifteen or twenty people stood. Suddenly, a movement right behind me caught the corner of my eye, and the man rose who had been sitting next to the distracting, chatty little boy.
Tears came to my eyes again as I realized that if I had shushed that boy, it would have been as if I was saying in front of that unsaved man, “Be quiet! I’m a follower of Jesus and I want to hear what He has to say.” My judgment on that little boy was founded on selfishness, and who knows but that the Holy Spirit used the boy’s innocent questions to strike conviction in that man’s heart?
At home after the play, though it was almost midnight I just couldn’t resist. I googled the pastor with the dreadlocks. And what I found was that he was a man passionate for the Gospel. So passionate, in fact, that he goes out on the streets of
This is not either a defense or condemnation of dreadlocks or of chatting during plays for that matter. This blog is not the place for that. However, it is a condemnation of my reaction to those two things. It is a challenge to understand that I never know how or by whom the Holy Spirit is going to work, and for me to get in the way of that with my own self-righteousness-steeped, judgment-dripping self is a move too dangerous to risk.
"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." ~John 7:24
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.