The cover of a book has to be catchy. It has to be subtle, yet not too subtle, flashy, yet not too flashy. It must be unique. It is supposed to convey the tone of the material and the brand of the author. And above all, it must evoke enough interest in passersby that they pick up the book off the shelf and flip it over to read what the book is about. One chance! Authors get one chance to make their book stand up and say, "Hey, over here. Read me! Read me!" That one chance is the book cover. If the cover is bland, the readers will be few. Are you beginning to understand why I save this horrendous task until the very end? I dread it! I hate to think that all of my hard work and the vital information within my book may be dismissed on account of my cover's appearance. It's truly unthinkable, but unfortunately, it happens far too often.
I wonder how often the same thing happens with people. Yes, Christians, I'm talking to you now. How many times do we dismiss people because of their appearance? We're shocked by the number of tattoos or piercings. We're horrified by the tight leather clothing or the spiky hair. We fear making eye contact because we don't want our judgmental pucker to be seen by others. Instead, we quickly walk by, thinking to ourselves, Whoa, that's a rough character! Really? Is it? How do we know without bothering to find out?
This truth hit me several weeks ago when Jason and I were watching the worst cooks show I told you about earlier. One of the participants was a middle-aged single mother who worked as a tattoo artist. Her hair was black and blue. Her body was covered in tattoos of all shapes and sizes. Her makeup was extreme, to say the least. And she had fingernails that resembled talons. Ashamedly, I took one glance at her and thought, Boy, she's scary. I hope she doesn't win.
Guess what. She was one of the sweetest, most precious women I've ever seen. She was kind and respectful. She was helpful and extremely tenderhearted. She had a heart for others and a sense of humor that was simply delightful. After a single episode of the show, I realized that I had sorely misjudged this woman. In fact, I found out that, outside of our appearance, she and I had a lot in common. Given the right opportunity, I believe she and I could be great friends.
Was she saved? Probably not, but perhaps she would be if a few Christians would get their high and mighty noses out of the air and befriend her. Think of the influence they could have. She seemed like someone who would certainly be open to the gospel if only someone would show her the way--someone who isn't put off by her appearance and occupation.
Please understand, I am not encouraging you to visit the bars and pool halls in order to reach out to the lost. That would be ridiculous. However, those people who occupy the bars and pool halls are the same people who shop at your grocery store or visit your doctor's office or whose children attend the same school as your children. There are plenty of opportunities to reach out to the lost just by doing our everyday activities, but it does require that we keep an open mind and an open heart. We need to stop judging people by their "covers" because inside, every story has a resounding theme: I am lost and need to be found.
Are we willing to show someone the way? Better question, are we willing to show anyone the way?
Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. - Matthew 7:1-2