Recently, I came across a blog post by a lady who helped start an outreach—to strip clubs. She and four other ladies began visiting strip clubs once a month to give the dancers a meal and gift baskets. Due to other events in her life, she is no longer directly involved, but the ministry has continued.
I was raised to believe that no good comes from places like that. Which is probably true on many levels. (I wouldn’t suggest making it your go-to for date nights)
I was filled (as were many Christian kids) with fear about “places like that”. That “those people” were heathens and doing all kinds of sinful, shameful things.
Which, again, is true of strip clubs.
And many other places.
But, these girls – these lovely, girls – were so…..normal…
…people – that could have been me.
It could have been any of us.
Had my journey taken a few different turns, I very well could have been on the receiving end of that encounter…
“[One of the strippers] said that she was so glad we come to visit them because we’re not like the other churches”
I said, “what did she mean by that?”
She said, “Apparently other churches send them hate mail. ALL THE TIME”
(Read the rest of the post here.)
Now, this isn’t about how you ought to go out and start your own ministry at a strip club. This is about seeing people the way that Jesus sees them—the precious individuals that they are.
I grew up with an elitist attitude. A person’s outside, I thought, was an excellent gauge of their inside. Good people were clean, neat, and modestly dressed. Anybody who didn’t “look right” was suspicious. And the women who had a lot out on display—well, they were really wicked. In fact, they were to be ignored if at all possible so that I could keep my eyes pure.
Is this really how Jesus wants us to see others? As objects instead of people?
No. Jesus spent time with those who the Pharisees (whose name essentially means “Separatists”) had cast off—to the point that the Pharisees called Him “a gluttonous man, and a drunkard; a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Luke 7:34)
We have no record of Jesus attacking the sinners who He ate with. They already knew that they were bad people and needed help. He knew that they were actually the ones who would receive His message, not the “religious” Pharisees who should have recognized God when He stood in front of them:
… Jesus said to them, “Most certainly I tell you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into God’s Kingdom before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. When you saw it, you didn’t even repent afterward, that you might believe him.”(Matthew 21:31-32)
As he sat in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick do. But you go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:10-13)
The sad part was that the Pharisees were just as “sick” as the “sinners and tax collectors”. But they did such a good job of hiding their disease that nobody besides Jesus knew it. And so they refused to come to the Great Physician and be healed. Many of them are in Hell today because of their stubbornness.
God warns us strongly about treating some people differently than others:
My brothers, don’t hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory with partiality. For if a man with a gold ring, in fine clothing, comes into your synagogue, and a poor man in filthy clothing also comes in; and you pay special attention to him who wears the fine clothing, and say, “Sit here in a good place;” and you tell the poor man, “Stand there,” or “Sit by my footstool;” haven’t you shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:1-4)
In other words, everybody is precious in the sight of God. And that is why Jesus spent time with the sinners: because they needed Him just as much as everybody else.
How can we ever reach the world if we refuse to associate and befriend those who aren’t “our type”? The woman with lots of skin exposed needs Jesus just as much as the lady who has everything neatly under wraps. That guy with the long hair, tattoos, and tongue piercing has an eternal soul just as much as the guy in the business suit.
It’s time that we change our perspectives—and our hearts.
Recently, I came across the Facebook profile of a young lady (let’s call her Cindy). Her cover photo showed her in a skimpy bikini. Her profile picture showed plenty of cleavage. Most of her photos on her public profile showed her in tight, very revealing outfits. I was disgusted. Remember, as I said back at the beginning, “…the women who had a lot out on display—well, they were really wicked.”
As I thought about it afterwards, though, God began showing me His perspective on the matter. The truth is, God sees every woman for who they really are. He looks past their clothing and sees what they are really like inside.
Some people (as I have) look at a woman like Cindy and toss her off as a slut and a wicked woman—just because of her clothing. They look at a woman who is dressed “modestly” and judge her as righteous, or at least more righteous than Cindy.
But not God. He looks at the heart and understands what is behind the outside. He knows when the “modest” women are unholy on the inside. He knows what’s inside the woman with the “revealing” clothing, and it might well be holier than the “modestly” dressed woman.
The next day on Facebook, I read a post that a friend had shared. The lady who had written the original post said something to the effect of, “If you’re one of those ladies with half-naked profile pictures, I will unfriend you because I don’t want your photos showing up when you comment on my posts or when people browse my profile and see my friends list.”
On the one hand, I could understand this woman’s desire to protect the eyes of her friends from immodest women. But after what God had showed me about Cindy, I saw the other, semi-subconscious side: “If you don’t dress right, I don’t want to have anything to do with you.” At least, that was the end result of this lady’s actions.
Maybe that woman with the low neckline is actually desperate for God, desperate for someone to love her, and doesn’t know how to find what she is looking for—and the Modesty People won’t tell her about God because they can’t see anything but cleavage. Or maybe—just maybe—she’s closer to God than they are.
It’s time that we stop judging people by the outside and begin treating everybody the same—as people who are precious to God. You know what, guys? Instead of placing so much emphasis on guarding your eyes that you end up being rude to some women, ask God to give you a pure heart that doesn’t lust. “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.” (Titus 1:15)
Anna McCarthy, who wrote the post that I quoted at the beginning, closes with these words:
[Jesus] loved then.
He loves now.
But, he can only reach as far as you and I are willing to go.
P.S. As we turn from judging people by their looks, we need to do a better job of looking for the real threat: wolves. Next time, we’ll look at who is the most dangerous type of wolf.