I was taught to look at how people were dressed and what they did to determine if they were Christians. When things got really bad at my unhealthy church and people started shunning me, I started seeking fellowship online. I ended up in a group of people who were supposedly all from the same background as me, and I enjoyed being on there.
Soon after I started fellowshipping on that discussion board, I started to realize they did NOT all believe like me… and I started making a list. Those who were “hardliners” and “conservatives” like me, people I could trust on one side, and “liberals” and “backsliders” on the other side. People I couldn’t trust, people I needed to watch out for because what they said might make sense, but it was probably dangerous.
I began my list and worked on it for probably a week. As I did, I began to realize something: those on the “bad” side of the list were the kinder, gentler, humbler people, while those on the “good” side, the ones I would fellowship in real life, were often cruel. In an online environment, where I couldn’t judge everyone by their clothes, hair, or certain actions, but it was easier to see character and love, goodness, kindness, meekness, self-control and so forth, I gravitated to the “wrong” group-the liberals and backsliders-nearly every time. They were the ones who exhibited the fruit of the spirit. They were the ones who showed mercy and love.
I threw the lists away, stopped looking at people’s appearances, and started considering their hearts. Doing so changed my world.