Get beneath the surface

"Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” (John 7:24) These words struck me this morning as I was reading the account of Jesus going up to the Feast of Tabernacles and the people hearing his message, amazed at his depth of teaching though he was not a 'scholar' of the Law of Moses. They are in awe of his wisdom and well-grounded instruction, but miss the point that he is the living, breathing Messiah. Jesus assures them his message is not his own but comes from is Father - "Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies." (vs. 17-18) Though speaking the truth, they could only see the things they knew about Jesus - that he was a son of Joseph, a carpenter, born into a village without nobility or honor. They could not see beneath the surface, so they were not making a 'valid' judgment about who Jesus really was.

This is the problem for us at times, isn't it? We see only the surface and never really get beneath the surface - beyond the things we think we know to the things that we could come to know. If we want to really understand the things of God, we have to be willing to 'dig beneath the surface' in order to really get to know him. That might look a little like us having to 'dig beneath the surface' of the front we put out there for everyone to see, as well! What? We get to know more about Jesus by getting beneath the surface of the 'superficial image' WE portray to the world? We get to know more about Jesus when he gets to touch us at more than 'surface level'. Ever wonder why some very solid biblical teaching never really does much to change our character or behavior? It is because we only 'interpret' it on the surface level - we don't allow it to really penetrate into our hearts and minds.

We all go through life making judgments of one sort or another. Some will be rather superficial, like which cut of meat to buy at the supermarket, or which roads we will travel on a journey. Others require just a bit more introspection, such as who we will choose as a soulmate, best friend, or spouse. While some of the judgments we make are okay to be made with very superficial knowledge, such as choosing the gas station on the same side of the road as we are driving on when both sides of the road offer the same price, we cannot always go through life only being 'surface deep' with our actions. At some point, we will need to 'look beneath the surface so we can judge correctly'. Notice, correct judgment is not always 'intuitive' - sometimes it requires a little more effort.

We may go through life seeing things as 'good' that 'tickle our fancy' and other things as 'bad' because they kind of repel us, but are we interpreting things correctly? The adage to not judge a book by its cover comes to mind here. What do you see when you look at yourself? What do others see? It is likely they see what you want them to see, but not always what is truthfully going on inside of your heart, mind, emotions, and struggles of the will. When we allow ourselves to begin to see with Christ's eyes, we begin to make better judgments in life. When we allow ourselves to be seen as Christ sees us, we become examples he can use to draw others to him. Just sayin!

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