Every time I meet someone, I start building my impression of them…based on what I can see. And I generally wonder what they think based on what they see.
What they see. Why do I start there? Why do I identify myself because of what’s visible? And I identify others in the same way, haven’t you? We’ve all done it.
“She’s wearing _________. She’s with them.”
“He’s listening to that kind of music. Oh.”
“I knew someone who went to a _________ church.”
And Samuel did the same thing, so God told him,
“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, ESV)
What makes appearances hard is that, well, you can’t fix it from the outside. You’ll just have the same problem on the other side of the scale.
For example, in order to fit into a certain Christian group, I might wear a long skirt. And when I don’t want to be identified with them anymore? I change into a pair of jeans. (However, the jeans would have to be long, too, since I’m over six feet tall. But that’s beside the point.) When I do that, I’m just covering myself with another identity so that I can portray myself in the way that seems best to me…at the moment.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, ESV)
I’m afraid that some people forget the last part of the verse. To “not be conformed to this world,” they try to look like the people who look like they’re not conforming to the world.
We do strange things sometimes, don’t we?
The answer doesn’t come from changing clothes, changing diets, changing music, or changing churches, or changing anything else in our power. I believe the answer comes from something that we can’t change.
“But be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
Did you notice the passive voice? Something is done to us. But, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2, ESV), He changes our minds from a twisted and narrow perspective to what is truth – His truth – real truth.
And His truth changes us. It changes me. To be a Christian is not to look or act a certain way. It is Christ living in us and showing us how it works. Our deeds were never enough to get saved, and why should they now be enough to live to please Him? He became sin so that we could become His righteousness. Then, at salvation – and now, every day.
I know I’ve heard, you’ve heard, we’ve all heard…our identity has to be in Christ. No, really. It sounds vague, but once Jesus gets you there, you’ll never want to leave.
Fragments. I’m not even sure I’m saying what I’m meaning to say. I love how Ephesians 1:6 says it in the NKJV:
“to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”
A perfect appearance doesn’t make me accepted to Jesus or anybody else. His grace does.
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