Friday, May 8, 2009

#38 Dog Puke?

Matthew 7:1-2 "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”

One of the things that my family really enjoys doing is taking a trip to the ice cream parlor. Ice cream is one of those amazing foods that seems to put a smile on your face no matter how you feel. That is probably why it is the world’s number two comfort food. I am assuming that chocolate has first place. It seems like every woman I know loves chocolate, but I know ice cream has to be a very close second place for many of us. No matter where our family lives we always learn where the ice cream shops are. When we lived in Collegedale, TN we would go to Chattanooga to the Marble Slab Creamery. They have a frozen marble slab that they use to mix up your ice cream with various candies and such. This is of course very similar to the Cold Stone Creamery that we have here in Michigan which we love too.

Just the other day we decided to try out an ice cream shop near the Midland church. It is called the Great Lakes Ice Cream Company. The place is very quaint and has a lake theme inside. They have built half-boat-looking enclosures that are stood upright behind the tables where you sit to enjoy your frozen creation. Of course our children are always bouncing off the walls trying to see all the ice cream in the showcase and they always want to sample all of it. As we stood there trying to narrow our decisions we noticed an ice cream with the oddest name. The bucket was filled with some greenish looking ice cream that had chunks of unidentifiable stuff in it. Some of the chunks were red and others were white. Occasionally you could spot a chunk that had a blend of the red and white. It was the least appealing ice cream I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot of ice cream. My confusion turned to laughter and then near disgust when I read the label above the ice cream bucket. This mixture of green with odd-shaped chunks was called “Dog Puke”.

As if drawn by some unseen force, my youngest son’s eyes locked on the “Dog Puke” bucket and he just had to have it. I nearly lost my appetite for having anything. Just the thought of my ice cream being called—not to mention resembling—“Dog Puke” was enough to nearly turn my stomach. As Carson took possession of the freshly-dipped cone he wasted no time sampling the mixture. I waited to see which flavor he would want after we threw that one away, but he hardly took a breath as he joyously licked the small cone of ice cream. It turns out that “Dog Puke” ice cream is actually quite good. The green ice cream is actually pistachio flavored and the chunks are actually pieces of sugar cookie dough. While not winning the “Visually Appealing” award, the mixture is delicious. Much like the first time I rode a roller coaster, I guess you may have to close your eyes to endure your first cone of “Dog Puke” ice cream.

This strange looking, delicious ice cream reminds me of how we sometimes judge the people around us. We might see someone who has on off-brand clothing and think they are a fashion flop. Perhaps they do not have the clean, polished look that most of us do. Maybe they smell funny or talk strange. It could even be that their hair is longer or sharper than we think it should be. Yes, hair can be sharp if you use enough hair gel or pomade. What is your reaction when you see someone who does not fit the profile of normal that you think they should? Do you look on them with disdain in your heart and rejection on your lips? Do you make every effort to avoid them? Or do you accept them for who and what they are? Do you see them with the eyes of the world? Eyes that will turn away if they do not see the model of what we think is right. Or do you see them with the eyes of Jesus? How does Jesus see people?

I believe that when Jesus looks at us He does not focus on the outward appearance that is simply a reflection of how well adapted we are to the world around us. Jesus looks past the exterior that we might work hard to maintain. Jesus sees past all the external things that speak of our earthly status and accomplishments. When Jesus sees us He looks right into the heart of each believer. Jesus sees the allegiances that we hold. He sees the things that we cherish and the things that we despise. I can recall the story of when Samuel was sent to anoint the next king of Israel after Saul turned away from God. When Samuel went to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s sons he expected to find a replacement for Saul that would match Saul’s stately presence, but it turned out that God had chosen the youngest of Jesse’s sons. God reminded Samuel that He looks not on the outward appearance, but rather upon the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

I think we can learn a lot from this story as well as the “Dog Puke” ice cream. Although the ice cream appeared to be nasty and inedible, it turned out to have a very good taste and according to the owner it is one of the most popular flavors he has. Too often we judge people and even situations without taking to time to get the facts or to get to know the people involved. That places us where attempt to serve as judge and jury. We should take the words of Christ to heart and not judge others (Matthew 7:1, 2). We should take the time to get to know people. If we take that time and make the small investment in people then we can often take part in being a major blessing to those with whom we come in contact. I would encourage you all to be slow to judge others. It is much like the old adage that encourages us to not “judge a book by its cover”.

You may discover the most interesting people are those that see the world through a different perspective than you do. You may learn that they too have an awesome story to tell about what Christ has done for them. You may discover that they need you to tell them about Jesus, and by taking the time to care about them you might just get the opportunity to tell them the greatest story ever told. Be slow to judge friends, and be even slower to turn away from the people that Jesus longs to save. Step out in faith and taste the “Dog Puke”. You may discover that you love it.

Dear Father in Heaven,

We thank You that You do not judge us as we deserve, but rather You judge us based on our relationship with Jesus. Please forgive us for being too swift to judge others, and please help us to always look beyond the outward appearances. Help us to see the people around us like Jesus does. Help us to always make Jesus foremost in our lives. We long for His return and we long to ne with You in heaven. Bless us according to You will and mercy, Amen.

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