Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. – Matthew 23:28
Suiting up sinners. Dressing up the doomed. A cool, civil, attractive exterior belies what throbs beneath.
As I sat in the courtroom for several hours, with a murderer facing me just 25 feet from my chair, I had much to ponder. Those very eyes that doggedly swept from low position to lower with an occasional darting up to his lawyer’s soul-holes, were the same eyes that watched the life blood flow from another human being by the wounds he himself was inflicting. The disturbing and recurring thought all afternoon was that in his dress shirt and tie he could walk within breathing distance past me and I would never know the horrific events he orchestrated; the wretchedness of his inner man.
All look socially acceptable and quite suitable in a shirt and tie. Actually, I’m quite happy to have all the humans surrounding me in shirt and tie and Sunday best. It makes me more comfortable. I feel safe. Everyone seems so nice, neat, clean and tidy. I long to believe that what I see on the outside is reflective of their neat, clean and tidy lives on the inside. This is an illusion. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In the courtroom, a tattoo escapes from the freshly pressed, buttoned-up dress shirt. It’s on his hand. Vandalism to the human body; a defacing of property not your own. His right hand, the expression of his power and loyalty, is clearly speaking of where he believes his strength lies. He believes his family-gang will support, protect and defend him. It is for them that he will seek to steal, maim and kill. They have made a pact. He believes he is secure as he lives within their code.
Nicely-pressed-shirt-wearing person: where dost thy loyalty lie? What sneaks out of your tidy exterior allowing others to see with whom you have struck a loyalty, made a pact? What marks are upon your body or upon your life that decry your dressed up exterior? What thoughts have escaped your heart through your lips and through your deeds that rightly condemn you? Is the spirit of lethargy upon us that we no longer hear? That we no longer care? Is there a murderer walking among us that we can no longer recognize? Are we fooling ourselves with our own illusions?
The murderer is strangely subdued. At first I think it the face of humility; a humility of the sort that is not, however, mingled with repentance. I soon realize that what I see is the humility of a caged tiger. If he had been allowed to move, he would have paced. Back and forth; back and forth. Waiting. Eager. Patiently eager. If the door to his cage were to open he would spring forth, tear off that shirt and tie and run back to his wild home.
The illusions we create of suitable, neat, and tidy lives, are mere white-washings of our true self. All is not well. We are in need of a Holy Spirit soul-searching. Believe not the appearance of things around you. Even a murderer looks good in a clean-pressed shirt and tie.
As seasons of life change, Elizabeth happily remains desperately dependent upon her God. Two of her four children have now branched off to begin their own families. She is a homeschooling veteran and a faithful wife of almost 30 years.