by Calven Celliers
Earlier this week I decided that it was high time I took my car for a proper clean, INSIDE and OUT! Whilst I often wash the outside, even have it polished from time to time, I don’t have the inside cleaned and vacuumed very regularly. Oh sure, I throw out any accumulated till slips, pamphlets, sweet wrappers and the odd leaf that finds its way in under my shoe, but I’m talking about a thorough clean. As I sat there watching them first soap, wash, rinse and then shine up the outside, then wipe down, and vacuum the interior, I began thinking about how relevant this is to our lives as followers of Christ.
One of the biggest mistakes we as Christians can make is to put more time and energy into outside activities, keeping up appearances, than into inside character-developing disciplines. Just think of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day and how terribly wrong they went all because they emphasized the outside over the inside.
“As religious leaders, the Pharisees often challenged Jesus because they felt threatened by his teachings. Jesus taught that spiritual cleansing and renewal took place in a person’s heart and showed on the outside in acts of mercy and justice. But the Pharisees taught a religion of mostly man-made rules and ceremonies. On the outside they appeared pious, but on the inside, many were filled with sinful thoughts and intentions.” (Roger Greenway)
I definitely pick up a rather harsh tone in Jesus’ reprimand to the religious leaders regarding this matter. In the Gospel of Luke, He said,
“39 …You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy — full of greed and wickedness!40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside?” (Luke 11: 39 & 40NLT)
Religious people often focus on the outward rather than the inward. It’s all about behaviour modification, conformity, and good deeds. Religion appeals to people’s tastes, preferences and ambitions rather than to hearts yearning for truth and cleansing. A relationship with Jesus, however, calls for transformation from the inside out as you devote yourself fully to Him. It’s dethroning yourself and enthroning Jesus; it’s complete divestiture of all self-interest as you surrender all of you to all of Him, giving God veto-power in your life.
When we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Saviour, God doesn’t just forgive us our sins, He begins a lifelong process of changing our very nature. A true and balanced spiritual life calls for God’s renewal from the inside out, as He creates in us the likeness of His Son. It involves personal disciplines such as prayer, meditation on the Word, and fellowship with God and His people, as the abiding Spirit of God nurtures us and prepares us for the challenges of daily life as God’s servants in this world.
The truth of the matter is that we can polish away at the soft glow of a sparkling clean exterior, but if the interior is still dirty, what good will that polishing do? We can fool others. We can even fool ourselves into thinking we have it made it spiritually… but we aren’t fooling God.