“The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances as though they were realities, and are more often influenced by things that seem than by those that are.” (Machiavelli)
We live in a world where Appearance is Everything:
Look a certain way. Sound another way. Act in this manner. Move with that group of people. Create this particular kind of impression…
…and so, we invest a lot of our tangible and intangible resources to create an image that is appealing – to others.
In the Kingdom, however, the total opposite is the case.
Appearance is Nothing.
Being is Everything.
I listened to a popular minister who owns a Christian television network teach on Saul and David. He talked about how Saul had been more concerned with what the people thought about him – than he was about his true standing with God.
David, on the other hand, was more interested in having a real relationship with God than he was about people’s opinion of him.
This minister then went on to explain how, at the beginning of his ministry, he wanted to show he too had ‘arrived’ by interacting and behaving like the ‘big boys’ (paraphrasing)…
…until, one day, God asked him a simple question:
“Do you want to appear rich, or do you want to be rich?”
I have never forgotten that statement.
Let’s expand this a little more and substitute ‘rich’ with other adjectives and phrases:
Holy. Diligent. Loving. Faithful. Spiritual. Intelligent. Prayerful. Generous.
A successful leader. A supportive spouse. A sacrificial parent. A loving friend. A faithful worker.
God is asking, “Do you want to appear (to be) – or do you really want to be?”
Appearing takes place in the spotlight and is meant for an audience. “Lights, cameras…aaaand action!” – and immediately, we get into character:
We wear the right clothes. Engage in the right activities. Sport the right accessories. Go to the right places. Drop the right names. Quote the right scriptures. Sing the right songs. Flaunt the right books – and the audience applauds, very impressed.
Then Life happens. The winds blow and the storms come…
…and the very ones we are trying to impress are horrified to discover that our houses are made of cards, and our pies have no fillings.
We are Weak. Empty. Shallow.
Thankfully, the Lord is more interested in our Being than in our Appearing – so, if we allow Him, he takes us through the process of Becoming.
Unlike Appearing which is quick, easy and glamorous, the process of Becoming to Being can be slow, difficult – and really ugly.
As His hands whip you into shape, you will drip sweat, blood and tears through gritted teeth.
It might involve sacrifice, self-denial and self-discipline, purging and pruning, repeated learning, aloneness and obscurity, enforced humility, even temporary embarrassment and so much more…
…but when He is done,
You are Strong. Rooted. Deep.
You don’t just Appear to be.