Thursday, September 6, 2012

Looking Good on the Outside

I posted a blog about ironing on Monday and this post follows a similar theme.  It's interesting to me how we can sometimes change things on the outside and expect that it really makes a difference to the inside.  It's kind of like "My Fair Lady," where a disheveled and common girl is turned into a proper lady by Professor Henry Higgins.  But the fact of the matter is, unless something changes on the inside, it's just behavior management on the outside.

I was reminded of this when my family was on vacation and we visited another church.  From the outside, everything looked great.  In fact, I may have even been a little envious of the facility that they had.  The worship space was great.  They had state-of-the-art equipment.  They had a nice little cafe out in the foyer where people could watch the service on flat screen televisions.  It seemed like they had all of the pieces to make everything work well.

But good equipment and fancy stuff doesn't necessarily change things.  You can dress things up, but it doesn't always cover over the fact of who or what someone or something really is.  At the end of the day, it felt like there was a lot of "cool" stuff but not a whole lot of depth.

I am sure that the people at the church are nice people.  I expect they love God and enjoy serving Him.  But the experience was really just a reminder to me that you can get everything "right" on the outside and if you don't let God do the difficult work on your heart, it's all for naught.  I can pretend to be something that I'm not, but eventually, the pretending will be too hard for me to handle. 

I don't really think that it's a matter of keep trying to look different and eventually you will act different.  I believe that the only way that we can change is through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.  I can do my best to make all the changes that I think I can, but I really don't think that they will last.

One of my favorite passages of Scripture is 1 Samuel 16.  The Lord sends Samuel to anoint David as the new king and he looks at David's brother and thought, "This guy must be the future king, the Lord's choice for Israel."  Instead, we read in verse 7, God says to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

It's easy to get caught up with how things look on the outside, but we need to remember that it's what's inside that matters most.  Behavior management is one thing, a changed heart is something completely different.  May my heart be changed.

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