Does this offend you?

When I was in my 20′s I got a tattoo. At the time my spirit kept silent as I lived completely for the flesh. I thought I was getting a cool dragon tattoo, but upon closer inspection you see that my dragon is wingless. It is more like a serpent which is fitting for the life I was living back then. Thankfully God looked past my foolishness.

Here in Buenos Aires piercings and tattoos decorate many faces and bodies. Personally, I reject such manipulations, but — ironically — that  is my flesh speaking again. How about these?

If these images cause you to react in a negative way, as they do to me, we should pause and ask, “Why?” Does seeing these persons stir compassion within me?  Do I judge by the outward appearance? Admittedly I do. I make a judgment and hold back mercy. In Jesus’ case, what did He do…

  • to the woman caught in adultery?
  • to the tax collector?
  • to he demoniacally possessed?
  • to the leper?
  • to the woman at the well with multiple men in her past?

Back in Jesus’ time these persons were impure and shunned to the point of inciting the desire, or even the obligation, to kill them in some cases. Even my comparison of this list of “sinners” to those who pierce and tattoo their bodies is discriminating and revealing. What did the Son of Man do?

He embraced  them. He visited them. He healed them. He forgave them. He loved them.

We as Christians are charged with a monumental commandment: to love. Instead we often pass judgment, and reserve love for those we see fit to love.  And what about those who pierce and tattoo themselves with pride, intolerance, impatience, indifference, selfishness or even cruelty? How many times have we thought, “He/she is hopeless?” To who? To God?

How do we expect someone to look past the external and into their heart if we ourselves are unwilling to do so?

When I see people like these on the street my first reaction is to reject them… but sometimes, out of God’s grace, He shows me a more excellent and compassionate way.

JHR

34 comments on “Does this offend you?

  1. Anita S says:

    You make an important point here, Vince. It’s easy to forget the importance of Christ-like compassion and understanding, realizing that no matter what a person looks like we are all the same sinners underneath.

  2. Joe Quatrone, Jr. says:

    Excellent post! While man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart.

  3. terry1954 says:

    i think i am in that middle age era, because i don’t like tattoos. i think it is a representation of who they want you to think they are, but for me, i want you to know me by talking to me

  4. 2b14u says:

    Your post goes along with the lesson I am to teach next Sunday. Thanks for sharing.

  5. granbee says:

    Far too often, Vince, we “righteous” judgmental folk use the excuse of “Well, you are known by the company you keep” in order to cross to the other side of the street when we encounter these tattooed and pierced ones! We are known by what we DO with those in whose company we enter! Amen! Such a wonderful blessing this post is to my own deepest yearnings to build truly loving and compassionate connectioins “for His sake” with ALL people!

  6. This is a great post, Vince.

    Thank you for reminding me to show the love of Christ to everyone, not just the people I’m comfortable with. It’s especially nice to be reminded that God loves every single person on the planet — enough to lay down His life for each of us. Love without judgment is so powerful!

    Blessings,
    Stevie

  7. Jason says:

    Vince,

    From the person I see on the street, to my own Sister, I hope I can remember the commandment “to love”, and lose the fleshly desire “to judge”…Thanks for the post!

  8. Bird says:

    I’m probably in the minority here, but this stuff really has never bothered me much. Only a few really in-your-face evil tattoos and a guy who had these two little metal horns implanted in his head so he could look like satan ever really got my attention. Glad I didn’t write a lot of nonsense all over my body for the nurses aids that will eventually probably take care of me to read and mock. But I do have two…both hidden and small. I wanted to look cool like my friends but with the absolute minimum amount of pain possible. I was SUCH a dork…lol.

    I guess I’ve been around so much of it most of my adult life, I’ve grown desensitized. Probably a good thing in my case.

    Great Post! Even if it did make me a little ashamed of my tiny hummingbird tattoo….

    –Bird

    • Vince Chough says:

      Here’s to us dorks saved by His grace!

      When preparing this post I came across a lot of truly horrible images… the enemy loves to seduce us with external trappings.

      • Bird says:

        Awesome! I hate being in Dork Clubs by myself…Me, too. Warriorprincess posted a pic with her post about atheist trolling and threats on her old site, and just the picture alone really freaked me out…You can tell something that truly hates you is looking right at you…way too creepy!! I’m way too poor to be seduced by many external trappings…:-)

  9. Thank you for admitting out loud how so many of us feel when we are around people who are different or don’t share out values. I too can feel turned off or even superior to someone whom I don’t identify with. When this happens God always finds a way to remind me that that person is a child of God too. It’s usually very humbling.

  10. ansuyo says:

    We are all judgmental, even when we try not to be. Jesus, who had the right to judge, did not. He didn’t accept sin, but he understood these people needed Him in the now, as they were (as we are). Change may come later, but love must come first. Great post. I’m writing one in a similar vein on my website, but I like the way you put this. Angie

  11. Pieter Stok says:

    Great post. There is an inner Pharisee in each of us that craves to come out. Only God’s grace keeps it in check.

  12. It is hard sometimes not to judge on appearance, but God give us the grace to look past the physical.

  13. jamie says:

    Personally I used to look at people with tattoos and piercing in a very negative way. But after a great lesson in love and compassion I discovered that God did indeed grant me freedom from my judgement. My new found freedom allows me to not be afraid of things like this. Now, I am even considering a tattoo for myself. ;o)

  14. rheath40 says:

    I for one love tattoos. I didn’t get my first one till I was 30. My tats tell my story. As they should for anyone that gets them. I find a tattooed body beautiful. I don’t like them on the neck or face though. Some people get crazy with the mutilation that they go through to pierce themselves though. I never understood that. I do love the fact that Jesus loves me, tattoos and all.

  15. That I would see His more excellent way… more often… abundantly more than I could ever hope for or imagine. Thank you for this insightful and provoking blog post Vince.

  16. hno3burns says:

    When I was a child and attended this big, rich Full Gospel church in Orlando Park, I was judged for being poor and having holes in my clothes. Now the church I currently attend, they take anybody! People show up looking dirty, like they just came from work or whatever. The only thing they discourage is immodesty.

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