I walked into a local beauty salon to purchase a gift certificate for my mother for Mother's Day. I couldn't decide between a pedicure and a facial so I just put a dollar amount on the card.
I had heard that the salon is owned and run by a Ukrainian woman, and as I don't know any Ukrainians I was curious to know what they looked like. I paid close attention to the woman waiting on me and noticed that she was rather short and had light hair (though it might have been dyed), brown eyes, soft features, and a feisty, almost pushy manner.
I thought to myself: So, Ukrainians are short, fair, brown-eyed, feminine, and extroverts.
But moments later I met another woman who worked there, also Ukrainian. She didn't look like the first woman at all: She was tall and redheaded. Then a third Ukrainian woman appeared, who was plump, had very curly hair and blue eyes, and did not seem outgoing.
As I thought about this, I realized how silly it had been of me, upon meeting the first woman, to extrapolate that all women from this Slavic former republic of the USSR looked like her and had temperaments like hers. Nevertheless, if I had met only Ivana and not her two colleagues that is the impression I would have been left with.
Then I thought about myself as a Christian representative of the Christian "race." For some people on my block, I may be the only Christian they know. They may look at me---the way I speak, the way I drive, the way I behave, the way I dress, the way I spend my time, the places I go to, the values I hold---and may conclude that all Christians are like me. If their impression is unfavorable, I have just failed them miserably as an ambassador of Christ.
When Peter was skulking around in the courtyard just after Jesus' arrest, a few non-disciples spotted him and said, "You are one of them!" (Mark 14:70), which, of course, he denied. My trip to the beauty salon was an eye-opener: People I don't even know may hear gossip come out of me and walk away thinking to themselves, "So Christians gossip like everybody else."
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