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 the 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.