Hooray! It’s the return of the a2z meme! OK, I confess, I fizzled out before the end of the second round, but we were in the middle of moving and unpacking and… yeah. (I guess “E” should be for “excuses.”) Anyway, a huge “thank you” to Patty Wysong for continuing a2z and helping writers and bloggers connect via alphabet and Internet for another 26 weeks! Here we go!
Appearances: outward impressions, indications, or circumstances
We are consumed by appearances. Marketing professionals make beaucoup bucks engineering products and corporate presentations to increase sales and brand loyalty. Celebrities and politicians (is there really a difference anymore?) fork over big money to stylists and consultants who can manipulate the best presentation of their public persona. Churches spend precious dollars to create an atmosphere (appearances) that will be perceived as welcoming, wholesome, and holy.
I’d love to say I’m immune to the pressure and persuasion of appearances, but I’m not. I still buy the book with the most appealing cover, scramble to clean my house from top to bottom when I know I have guests coming to visit, and spend more time than usual choosing my attire, fixing my makeup and doing my hair on Sunday before church than I do the rest of the week. I still have to fight the knee-jerk reaction to judge others according to appearances, and endure the onslaught of silent and not-so-silent judgment from others based on my own appearances (remember, appearances include both natural presentation, expression, and your current circumstances.)
And yet, what do our outward impressions, indications, or circumstances have to do with anything that’s actually going on in our lives? Some would argue (I’ve been among that group), that appearances are just a reflection of what’s within, and therefore should be carefully groomed and maintained, lest we “give the wrong impression.” Others reject and rebel against any suggestion of manipulating or controlling appearances, and end up manipulating and controlling their appearances in a negative sense (I’ve been in that group, too).
Jesus was (and is) well aware of our penchant for keeping up appearances and putting on airs. He rebuked the tidy, conservative, clean-cut Pharisees for their focus on the externals, and commended the adulteress, the tax collector, and the thief for having hearts that hungered for forgiveness, righteousness, and relationship with God.
When it all comes down to the ink on the page, or the rubber meeting the road, or brass tacks, or whichever euphemism you choose, appearances don’t count for a darned thing in the face of an all-seeing, all-knowing God. He already knows where you’re at, what you’re like, where you’ve been, what you’ve gone through/are going through, how you think, who you are deep down inside… everything about you, inside and out. He was there when you were knit together in your mother’s womb, making plans for your future filled with hope and goodness.
We’ve all taken twists and turns along the way, wandering along paths of His leading, of our own making, or the deceptions of the enemy. Sometimes, when those shiny false-fronts we’ve erected in our lives to “save face” at work or with friends or at church come crashing down in a stiff breeze, exposing us to the eyes of those who judge and condemn, we need to remember that the God who MADE us saw us playing the role of the wizard in our own little Oz the whole time and loved us anyway, with an everlasting love.