The story goes that Opa, an esteemed boat builder, was so opposed to the marriage of his only child, a daughter, (my grandmother) to my grandfather, a common house painter, that, at least on one occasion, he physically separated them on a public street.
Over a hundred years ago social class was still a serious means by which everyone was put in”their place”. It was an era in which the local noble in Holland would arrive at church and be the first to enter with his family. After all it was a pew that he had paid for. Only after this had happened could the riff raff take the other places.
Quite a few years ago two theological students did an experiment. One dressed up neatly and the other poorly. They set about visiting local churches and measuring the reaction they got; how many greetings, invitations and conversations etc. It will not surprise you to know that the well dressed student was warmly greeted far more than the poorly dressed student.
A number of years ago I went on a retreat that was also attended by a number of Christian bikers- tattooed, chained, leather jackets, long hair (if they had any). To be frank they looked a scary bunch. I kept my distance. As I got to know them they revealed the most caring and gentle hearts I have ever come across. They invited street kids, and unwed mothers and people struggling with addictions to live in their homes. They were reflections of their master – Jesus.
I was ashamed of myself and reminded of what the Lord said to Samuel, “ … The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7