Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Community: Where Truth Comes to Life Appearances: Does the Outside Reveal What’s on the Inside? Several years ago I was watching a news segment and they were talking about various stores advertising furniture as being made from real wood. Stores such as Pottery Barn as well as discount retailers. I’m sure many of us have been shopping for furniture and we base our decision on what we see and the price that best fits our budget. We want the best bang for our buck. Automatically, in most cases, we think if we spend more money on an item the quality of it surely matches. This is not always the case. The news segment revealed that from the least to most expensive pieces of furniture were not solid wood. They were made from various products like fiber board and particle board with beautiful veneer affixed to it. In other words, what was visible on the outside was not reality throughout the piece of furniture. The same can be said of us as Christ followers. We can present ourselves as Christians in our appearances and yet what’s on the inside; the materials or character of the product doesn’t match. This type of replica or forgery is one of the greatest barriers to people coming or returning to faith in Christ. It is what most people away from God say the moment you ask them about their reasons for avoiding church, hypocrisy. It’s sad, but true! The Bible provides many examples of the inner life and how it transforms and affects what others see and hear from us. I will paraphrase a few. The good man brings forth good fruit out of what is stored up inside of him. Out the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Continue to bare the fruit of repentance. As we are transformed in our minds we should no longer be conformed to the pattern of this world. Genuine attributes like love, joy, and peace work their way from the inside out. These are just a few examples. The most difficult thing for me is to continuously stay yielded and committed to the inner disciplines that generates both inner and external transformation. It is far easier just do Christianity than to become a genuine Christian. This is why it is much easier to simply maintain appearances while at the same time getting lured into religiosity. People can see and measure my faith commitment by what I do rather than by who I am becoming. My guess is that this kind of stuff is what breeds tradition and legalism. Following external practices, codes, and rules replaces the cultivation of an intimate, deep, and abiding relationship with the lover of our soul. Just as important as maintaining personal inner disciplines is the commitment to pursue and live out these disciplines in community together. Sharing how the Lord is transforming our lives in a group setting creates and cultivates an environment that can bring about transformation among those gathered. After all, the ultimate goal and byproduct of group life is becoming REAL followers of Jesus Christ from the inside out. We are not interested in appearing to be something we are not. We are pursuing the reality of being and becoming more like Jesus. We are Kingdom apprentices manifesting the Kingdom of God Now!