Last night a friend and I went to the theatre. We found our seats, settled in and relished the prospect of enjoying the performance. That is, until the people behind us were seated. I cannot begin to adequately describe how annoying these people were. They whispered (loudly!) to one another throughout the show. The woman kept making remarks on everything from the actor's accents to their looks. At one point she actually said "these girls aren't nearly as pretty as the ones in the movie." This woman was so loud...we could hear everything she was saying. Oh, and she would occasionally finish the actors' lines for them! She laughed really loud...and often laughed at inappropriate times when the rest of the audience was silent. Her husband kept playing with some sort of plastic candy wrapper...crinkling it over and over...and over and over. I'm not kidding. It was maddening. My friend and I kept looking at each other in amazement over the amount of noise this couple was making throughout the evening. I was definitely feeling proud that I wasn't acting as uncouth as that couple and I was absolutely prejudiced against them for being such annoying play-goers.
After the show, we were all leaving and I quickly glanced behind me to get a look at these ill-mannered, annoying people. Gah! I know them!! It was this sweet couple who used to own a business I worked for while I was in college. The lady was my boss for two years!!! I affectionately called her Granny Annie!!!! I quickly turned away before they could see me and told my friend we had to get out of there fast.
Then I felt bad. I know how sweet and genuine that couple is. I know how much they love the Lord. I know how many people they have poured into over the years. And I judged them based on their noisiness at a play. But what was even more convicting is that my judgment of them changed when I knew who they were. What if they had been total strangers? I would not have loved them with the love of Christ. I would not have shown them grace. I would have gone home still thinking of them with pride and prejudice in my heart. And that is a reflection on me...not on them.