Saturday, July 16, 2016

Mere Appearances: John 7:24

It can be very easy to get caught up in the obvious things that glare out in front of our faces, in how things appear. Since that is what is easy to discern about others and situations, and what we know that other people can discern in us. However, Christians who live by scripture, should know better than to merely succumb to human nature on this one.

"Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead, judge correctly." - John 7:24 (Jesus)

When we judge and condemn by mere appearances, or on the surface, to put it another way. We are falling victim to the legalistic mind set, much like the Pharisees did two-thousand years ago. Unfortunately, many in the church are still doing this today by getting all caught up with people's behavior, but never looking any deeper. Granted, behavior can be a reflection of where our heart is at, but it doesn't tell us the whole story; it is often a symptom of a larger problem. Which is precisely why We shouldn't judge by mere appearances, it's an incomplete assessment; regardless the situation or context.

While people often sin for rather selfish reasons; there is often a lot of hurts, emotional scars, and brokenness behind our selfish and ultimately sinful actions. There's often a face behind every scar as well. So if we correct in a way that is just as unkind, rude, and critical as the faces behind their scars; it is unlikely they will take your words seriously, or see them as constructive.

As disciples we need to keep in mind what Jesus told us about righteousness, specifically, that true holiness must come from the heart. (Matt. 23:25-27) Leave out the heart and all you are doing is whitewashing yourself. If it is foolish to do that to self, how much more foolish is it to whitewash others against their will. To force people to change their behavior, but never address what lies at the heart of their actions. For example, if you pointed a gun at someone and demanded that they say "I love you" they probably will. But, if you honestly think their words are sincere, you are only kidding yourself. Such is the nature of forced obedience. That is not the kind of followers Jesus wanted. The question is, why do we?

Sin isn't any more surface than righteousness is. (Matthew 15:18-20) So if you judge someone by mere outward signs, and never consider the emotional wounds behind them; we are essentially saying, I don't care about your pain; I only care how your actions affect me. Is that how Jesus corrected, by dismissing people's pain in favor of a pleasant camouflage? No it was not. So why do we?

Consider this, psychologists will tell you that the desire for unconditional love is one of our primary motivators. So many of these obsessive, compulsive, and self-destructive behaviors are misguided attempts to manufacture those feelings. Yet, we as believers have access to the ultimate unconditional love, but when we judge people harshly and critically by mere appearances, we are misrepresenting that love as conditional. We are pushing people away from the very thing they need most. So ultimately we are leading people astray by poisoning people to God's love.  Jesus had some stern words for such people, do yourself a favor and don't be one of them. (Matthew 18:6-7)

Let me ask you this, how do you respond to people judging you with impatience, unkindness, rudeness, criticism, and disrespect? Does it inspire you to change or just resist and lash back? If it does inspire you to change, is that change sincere, or is it merely based on fear? Other people will not likely respond any differently when you use said tactics on them. Keep all this in mind the next time somebodies mere appearance rubs you the wrong way, and you are tempted to alter their surface behavior for the sake of your comfort. 

The Visual PARABLEist

A man looking at one side of an object and assuming it is symetical, when it is not.
Click to enlarge