“And he was restored and saw everyone clearly.” (Mark 8:25 NKJV)
A few years ago while sitting in my car waiting for the light to change on a midsummer’s morning in Boulder, Colorado, my attention was abruptly seized by the earth-shaking roar of an unmuffled Harley pulling alongside my car. I slowly turned to look at the rider hanging on his chopper like a baboon in a tree, and I easily sized him up in an instant.
Long blond greasy hair tied in a ponytail; sweaty, red bandana headband; Fu Manchu mustache; offensive tattoos etched on every square inch of his neck and arms; and an undeniable fury swirling about his head like wasps around an agitated nest. “Now there’s a biker,” I thought to myself. “Better give him a wide berth!”
Turning back to see if the light had changed I couldn’t help but notice a smartly dressed gentleman coming out of First National Bank, carrying an expensive leather attaché and walking briskly toward a brand new Cadillac. His was a bright look of capital conquest; king of all he surveyed. “Now there’s a banker,” I automatically concluded. “It sure would be nice to have a guy like that interested in my ministry.”
The light had not changed yet so I risked one more guarded glance toward the biker. In doing so my eyes caught sight of a ruffled old man staggering out of a thick hedge of shrubs bordering the city park. He had spent the night burrowed in the bushes, and I think the Harley woke him up.
He was days unshaven, weeks unshowered, and years unsure. Brushing the leaves out of his matted hair, and squinting so as to ease the flood of sunshine into his blood shot eyes -- the homeless man stumbled into yet another meaningless day with patented indifference. “And there is a bum if ever I saw one,” I casually thought to myself. “What a waste.”
Then it hit me. Biker, banker, bum.
The unintended symmetry in my spur-of-the-moment opinions startled me. And as these words replayed in my mind, a quiet sense of conviction began to settle upon me. Somehow I could tell that the Lord was examining me in that moment, and that what had just happened was not exactly what I wanted Him to see. For right then -- without any sense of forethought, discernment, or compassion -- I had labeled three people I didn’t even know; and had done so with a cavalier sense of self-certainty: “Biker, Banker, Bum.”
I tell you what -- let me step aside until tomorrow, and I'll tell you of an event in the life of Jesus that relates to this awkward moment. We’ll come back to my experience at the intersection a little later. It’s a long light anyway; we have time....