Have you ever had a teacher confess a sin to you? That happened to me in grade 12:

“When you were in my class in grade 10, I gave up on you and thought you’d never follow God, but God has really gotten a hold of your life. I’m really sorry.”

I told him it was OK and that I wasn’t hurt at all. But that memory makes me think of how limited our vision can be. I was a lot closer to the kingdom than he had realized. My teachers may have seen an angry, pot-smoking skateboarder, but God saw a teenager about to give his life to Jesus.

"For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Last night I struck up a conversation with a rough-looking fellow at a local music club. He jumped right into stories of binge drinking and rocking hard with his band. Then he gave me his CD. I blinked twice when I read “Hellbound,” the title of the 6th song.

At first glance I didn’t think this man would be open to God, but I was wrong. We talked for a few hours about music, and life, and faith. To my surprise, he only had good things to say about God. Pinching air between his fingers, he even said, “I’m a bit of a Christian.” I thought, “Friend, you are not far from the kingdom of God; God’s gonna get a hold of you!”

Who would’ve believed that David the shepherd would become David the Giant-Slayer, or that Saul the persecutor would become Paul the Apostle, or that Peter the betrayer could turn around and lead the church, or that a rock musician singing “Hellbound” thinks Bible stories are awesome, or that a pot-smoking punk like me could become a temple of the Holy Spirit?

Let’s not judge any book by its cover, since only God knows how the story ends.

We need to believe in everyone’s spiritual potential. Jesus sure did when he died on the cross for us. He even took the opportunity to assure the criminal hanging beside him that they would meet again in Paradise.

Are there rough-edged people in your life? Have you begun to give up on anyone? Why not take time right now to pray for a new set of eyes. That person could be at salvation’s door. Could God be inviting you to help them knock?

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updated August 2019

Photo Credit: Hanna Sörensson