By the Rev. Lakeya Stewart
Have you ever seen a nice home that once had a family living in it now empty? What does it look like on the outside? It probably looks like a typical vacant home. It is commonly known that those people who really want to sell their home will invest money, time and effort into maintaining the lawn and aesthetics of the home. This makes the home attractive so when prospective buyers come, they are initially blown away by the outside!
Sometimes houses that have been sitting empty and have been on the market vacant for a while begin to develop this vacant smell. You know, the “I’m empty, please freshen me up smell!” The basement could have mold or even could have been flooded….perhaps, the foundation unstable, but without a careful examination of the inner workings and structure of the home, home buyers are left to the naked eye.
They, meaning prospective homebuyers, often have judged the book by the cover without first having read anything on the inside.
So it is with Christianity. In today’s society, people are more concerned with their outer appearance rather than their souls. If a poll were to be taken to determine where our time is divided, most people would probably report that they spend more time in the malls and shopping centers than they do in church and in personal prayer time each week.
I wonder what the reports say when looking at how much time people might spend in the mirror versus how much time people spend communing with God. I bet the numbers would be shocking.
A friend once told me that she felt her church was more concerned with her outer appearance than the condition of her soul. She began to express anger and resentment toward the church and even toward God when discussing this with me. This woman in her early 40s was confused as to why an emphasis wasn’t placed on developing a personal relationship with God.
Jesus in Matthew 23:25-28 speaks using parables of how the scribes and Pharisees were more concerned with the outside of items like cups and platters than the inside of the items. Jesus speaks of the importance of cleaning the inside first. He then applies this to Christian living and He makes the point very clear in verse 28. There He says, “Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”
Although Jesus uses parables and metaphors to speak and get his point across in scripture, he also leaves no room for doubt when he clearly states what is required of Christians concerning righteous living. Jesus is not concerned with people who are only outwardly concerned with being righteous. Jesus has concern for both the inward and outward part of believers. It is because we have an inner relationship with God that we want to display outward signs and evidence of his presence in our lives. This often leads to modest dress, positive language and a life set apart for God’s use.
If God were to come back today, would he be pleased with the life that we live? On this week I challenge you to consider this question….Am I living my life from the inside- out?
For questions or further correspondence concerning future topics or speaking engagements, please email at RevStewartSpeaks@outlook.com.
The Rev. Dr. Lakeya Stewart, M.Div., D.Min., ABD attended Berea College and the Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky and earned a double major B.A. degree in Sociology and in African & African American Studies as well as the Master of Divinity Degree. Rev. Stewart is currently writing a dissertation on Toxic Leadership and Spiritual Abuse through Regent University.