Wednesday’s Subway Adventures in Toronto
My wife and I flew into Toronto yesterday for our annual Foursquare pastor’s convention (the above photo is the view from our hotel room). One of the benefits of being a pastor in the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada is the opportunity to see many different places across our great nation. We’ve been to conventions in Whistler BC, Calgary Alberta, Quebec City in Quebec, and even one in our own back yard of Winnipeg Manitoba.
Since we arrived a day early, we decided to hop on a bus to the subway to go into downtown Toronto. I love watching people, so as I sat on the bus watching passengers get on and off, I found myself making subtle judgment calls about people, based on their appearance or dress. If I was right in my judgments, it seemed like every other person in Toronto was either a gang member or a terrorist. The scary looking guy with the hooded sweatshirt. The teenagers with the pants on the ground. The guy with the beard who looked like a college professor but probably secretly worked for some terrorist cell. I wondered if we were going to be mugged before this trip was over!
I’ve never thought of myself as a judgmental type of a person. I’ve always believed the best about people. But being there on the bus and then the subway heading into downtown Toronto – the largest city in Canada with a population of 5.5 million people – I realized this little prairie boy from small town Manitoba might still have some issues to work through.
There’s a story in the Old Testament where the Lord called a prophet named Samuel to go to the house of Jesse and select the next king. As Samuel looked at Jesse’s oldest boys, he said, “Surely this is the one the Lord has chosen.” But God’s response was so deep, profound and insightful: “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7).
What a lesson there is for us in this Scripture today! It’s so easy to judge people by external appearances and make snap judgment calls. But God calls us to look deeper than that, and look at people’s hearts, not their clothing or hair style or piercings. Perhaps the young guy with the hooded sweatshirt on the bus was just cold. Maybe the teenage guys with pants on the ground couldn’t afford a belt. And maybe the bearded college professor just likes wearing a beard.
Lord, thank you for the reminder today to not judge based on outward appearances, but to look at people’s hearts. Help me to see people with your eyes, and your love, acceptance and forgiveness. Amen!
p.s. I’m happy to report that after a grand adventure in downtown Toronto, Liza and I made it back home without getting mugged…