The orthopedic surgeon was accompanied by a medical student at my son’s follow up appointment after his collar bone was put back together with six screws. The med student was very cordial when entering and leaving the exam room, but the rest of the time he was furiously scribbling on his small notepad. When he left, I said to my son, “when he becomes a doctor, the first thing he needs to do is buy some nice shoes.”
The man’s clumpy sneakers were the color of dirt and the laces were all stretched out. They all but flopped on his feet, but I chalked it up to a busy and broke med student doing his best. My much more fashion savvy son said, “Mom, those shoes cost $400. He’s cool. All the celebrities wear them.” I felt really bad for making a statement like that to my son after he corrected me.
Because he didn’t meet my estimation of what a professional doctor should look like, I completely missed the value of what he was wearing. He had on very expensive shoes that matched his age and obviously helped him connect with the young patients he would be seeing that day, but all I saw was something I deemed not good enough.
There is value in a lot of people, but because it doesn’t match what we think looks valuable, we can miss it entirely. Scripture tells us again and again that God does not make a distinction between the rich and the poor. “Two men come into your worship service. One is wearing gold rings and fine clothes. Suppose you give special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say to him, “Please have a seat.” But you say to the poor man, “Stand over there”, or “sit on the floor at my feet.” Aren’t you discriminating against people and using a corrupt standard to make judgements? Didn’t God choose the poor in the world to become rich in faith and to receive the Kingdom that he promised to those who love him?” James 2:2-5.
Many times, we miss the value that people carry…the love they have for God. The most valuable thing of all, God’s spirit and his Kingdom are contained within Christians, but because their packaging is not up to our standards, we never even realize it. I think about all those people inside the place of worship when the Messiah entered the temple for the first time. Most people missed his presence because they were not expecting him to come in such a lowly state. A baby of poor parents is not what they were expecting to see as their Savior.
As I reflected on my derogatory comment about the med student’s shoes, I was convinced that many times I overlook God’s presence when I get hung up on appearance. Much of scripture teaches us that the best gifts will come in the least impressive packages. I was reminded to look past the package and to the heart of people; there you may find the most valuable treasure of all. What we may look at as shabby, God sees someone rich in faith who will receive the Kingdom he promised those who love him.