The Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing

Do you ever wonder what being a Christian looks like? Could it be that we may have our stereotypes all wrong? What if… just maybe… the very fact that there are stereotypes at all could be a mistake in itself? Wow, we have a lot to learn! Everyone is guilty. We all have made the mistake of giving someone the “once over” and thinking to ourselves, “he must be a really great person.” Or, “can you believe she calls herself a Christian?!” It has been stated, that the first thirty seconds after an introduction is the most crucial when it comes to the overall opinion made about a person’s character. In my experience, I feel the length of time it takes for many weak-minded folks to “decide” someone’s worth is less than a single second. One glance is often more than long enough for someone to instantly judge the value of those they observe.

1 Samuel 16: 1-13 gives us a story from the Bible that may offer insight into the way God looks at us as human beings. The basics of this story is one where Samuel, a man of God, has been sent by God to the house of Jesse to find the new king of the nation of Israel. He immediately goes to the oldest, best looking young man. Wrong. He then completely runs the gamut of the boys until only the young little shepherd boy is left. Even Samuel was perplexed, as Godly as he was. Just because he was a follower of God doesn’t mean he was exempt from having a somewhat judgmental attitude. God had chosen the least likely. Man’s last choice was His first. We should take note.

Check out verse 7 of 1 Samuel:16
–But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Why does the human condition seem to require that we always keep a skeptical eye on those whom we come in contact with? Is it environmental awareness? Is it self-protection? Could it be that we may are in this constant state of people-watching in order to see where we may stand in comparison to the shortcomings or triumphs of others? The answer probably lies in a steady mix of these reasons and more.

I love it when I meet someone who breaks the mold. An introduction is in order here.

Allow me to introduce you to Mark Langham.

A paradox among the “normal looking,” he is content to be a unique man with a very gentle spirit. Don’t misinterpret the intent of this statement; this isn’t a bad thing. He’s just different. And why is different necessarily negative. Well, it doesn’t have to be — and Mark is a fantastic example of why.

He drives up in his Jeep and steps out with an atmosphere of complete humility. Actually, is isn’t really easy to see him in his Jeep unless you are looking in from the side because the back is stacked so full of boxes that you can’t see in. He is a man with a mission that you should know about. There are boxes of Bibles are crammed all the way to the ceiling of the cab awaiting their trip overseas to a destiny of hope. Bibles? What’s so unusual about that? Nothing really until you see the driver of the Jeep.

Mark is best described in his own words. I asked him a few questions so we could all capture a glimpse into the heart and spirit of a guy that many will not give a second look at unless it is a look of judgement.

Mark, you have one of the most interesting first impressions of anyone I know. What is the most common reaction you receive and why do you think that is?

I suppose a lot of people assume that I’ve travelled in time from the late sixties or early seventies. But seriously, other than being an anachronism, a lot of people do ask me if I play in a band because of my long hair and bell bottoms.

How do you feel about the different reactions you get?

When I was younger I guess I felt a certain sense of alienation when people misjudged me but I learned quickly that it comes with the territory. But now I take it as a compliment. And it’s opened doors for me, gained the trust of people that usually stay out on the shadowy fringe. And it has certainly endeared me to non-believers who may find church a bit starchy.

Your faith in Christ is pretty evident after being around you for any length of time. Do you find that people are surprised by your devotion?

You know I have found that it does surprise some people. I think there has been a certain straight laced persona that has always been associated with Christianity, and though in the past decade there has been a definite shift away from that, I still sometimes get that reaction, especially here in the Deep South.

Has your physical appearance ever kept you from being able to do something you wanted to do?

Ha. Only from dating girls whose dads were like, “Oh heck no”. But really, other than a few job interviews that ended with the question “will you be willing to cut your hair?” it’s not been a huge issue. I don’t think…..hmmm.

You have been through some very tough struggles in your life. What would you say is your key to keeping the positive attitude that seems to infectiously radiate from you?

You know, in light of the tragedy and suffering in the world I really don’t feel like I’ve had it that bad. I mean I struggle with disappointment like most people who thought their lives would turn out different, but I try and remember the millions of people in the world that are being exploited, and savagely abused every day, and that helps me keep everything in perspective. And as religious as this may sound, I really do think about what Christ sacrificed on the cross and it reminds me mine is a light load.

Are you involved in church? Do you consider yourself to be particularly religious?

I do go to a small believers meeting whenever I’m not working or out of town and have some great friends and family who I fellowship with on regular occasion.

In Christianity, true religion is defined as clothing the naked, feeding the poor, and taking care of the widows and orphans in their distress and I have really been trying to live that out over the last couple years.

Tell us about Conspiracy of Hope and how we can be involved. Contact/facebook info.

Conspiracy of Hope is a Hattiesburg based anti-human trafficking non-profit that raises awareness and funds to stop the sexual exploitation and enslavement of kids. Every year well over a half a million children are bought and sold into the most horrific forms of forced labor and sex slavery and with no one to speak out on their behalf many of them will die in captivity. Anyone wishing to join us in the fight against this evil can join our Facebook group at www.conspiracyof and can check out our blog at aconspiracyofhope.blogspot to educate themselves on this tragedy.

Do you see yourself ever working for COH full-time?

I’d love to, if not with COH definitely some other anti-human trafficking or human rights organization. I certainly feel called to this cause.

How did you start/become interested in this cause?

I was reading Francis Chan’s book “Forgotten God” and at the very end of the book was a short passage about a child who had been sex-trafficked. At that moment it was no longer someone else’s child it was my own. I began to weep and then to sob in convulsions. I believe my heart collided with the heart of the Heavenly Father, I believe He let me feel just a drop of the hurt He feels every time one of His tiniest creations are subjected to such twisted and demonic horrors.

What are your hobbies? Any favorite bands?

I write a little poetry and short fiction but almost all my spare time is consumed by COH and related causes. That and time with my son who is absolutely incredible! As far as bands go, I love Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens and anything Kim Walker from Jesus Culture sings.

Who do people tell you that you look like? Do you like it?

Ha. Usually it’s Ted Nugent or Jesus. It doesn’t bother me to be compared to the Nuge, I know they mean it in a nice way. The comparisons to Jesus just make me a little uncomfortable and are also so inaccurate; Jesus was a Jew, probably dark-skinned and dark-haired, not a blue-eyed hippie messiah.

So what can we learn from Mark?

I think the lesson should be that we try to see those around us with the eyes of God. Christ sees into the heart. He sees more than this shell of flesh and bones, our style or our first impressions. In order for us to look upon mankind with this attitude, it may require that we get to know people before making snap judgments.

Psalm 139
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

People like Mark give so much flavor to a bland and mundane world. He is a light in a dark place. How unfortunate it is that we overlook the salt and light (Matthew 5:13) that is all around us simply because we are too consumed with our own prejudices.

Let’s be different.

Truth wins!


~ by Scott Herrin on April 20, 2011.

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