Take A Closer Look

It is a snow day in Central Ohio and I am at home on the hill with Jamie, the kids, and highly energized puppy that loves to pounce. That means an extra pot of coffee is needed and the fireplace will run all day for warmth and ambiance. It also means that the TV will be on and with 5 of us as a captive audience we will have to share. I will get some news and they will get a mix of cartoons, reality shows, rerun movies, and since it’s Tuesday Drew will find a football (soccer) game on to watch. Lord help me.

This morning Julia found a cooking show. Since she found it and her mother loves that genre it was a must watch. The set up is a cooking show with kids baking cakes based on the challenge they receive from their expert bakers. Today they were baking cakes using their most creative unicorn idea with a twist of adding a particular emotion to the cake (anger, fear, worry, etc..) I am not sure who came up with that idea, but somebody did and somebody else thought it was a good idea for a show and somebody else believed it belongs on TV and then somebody else tuned in, paused, and viewed it as entertainment.

The kids proved to be good at what they do. There are 10 – 14 year olds baking up a storm and producing a cake that looks like it belongs on a TV cooking show. Their cakes look like they could be in a high end bakery in big towns. Those cakes appear to be worth  hundreds if not thousands of dollars to someone wanting to throw the perfect party for a 7 year old girl’s birthday party. Those kids baked cakes that looked like they could be photographed and put in magazines or on the inter webs for people to go ga-ga over. Those kids look to be destined to be the next TV stars or bakery billionaires that we all know and dream of meeting. It all looks to be very good, very tasty, very valuable, very successful, very….real.

I am not sure if its real or not. It would be foolish of me to tell you that it is fake or made up or heavily assisted by adult expert bakers. Maybe it is, but I don’t know. I only know what it looks like on TV. And in our world what things look like is exactly what we believe them to be. We buy in quickly to what looks like a good thing to us.

People with fame and fortune look to be loving life.

People with pretty or popular kids look to be happy.

People wearing the trendy clothes or hair look to be cool and together.

People with the best job or title look to be important and powerful.

People running in marathons look to be very healthy.

People at the beach look to be relaxing.

I could go on and on in a generic sense, but you get the point. Looks are deceiving and we are conditioned to base worth on how something/someone looks.  We are deceived about the way secular things appear and about the way spiritual things appear, but don’t usually know it. We just take a glance at something and let the our cultural presets kick in  how we value something or someone.

People at ___________________ church look to be serious about their faith.

People with a big Bible look to be devout.

People with the best experiences look to be spirit led.

People with the right platform look to be anointed.

People with the right connections look to be fortunately placed.

People with the happiest song looks to be satisfied.

All of these things can be faked with only a little bit of effort. What things look like aren’t always what they seem. The truth almost never rests simply on the surface. To get to reality one has to go deeper, look closer, explore with more vigor what is being offered as reality. It isn’t safe to just go by the looks of things. We will be wrong more often than not when we only take a look and declare something true.

I am not calling us to judge others. I am asking that we consider our own self portrayal to the world. Are we actually living like we look? Or are we putting on a show? There is no reason to live in sadness and sack cloth, but neither should we be fake about the life we have carved out. We can’t dress up, cover up, or stand up in the midst of a mixed up reality. We know who we are even if others do not. We know who we are even when no one is looking at us. We know who we are when we think we have gotten away with a secret identity or a totally false persona. We know. And so does God.

Take a closer look. It won’t hurt anything and might take just a minute. Your life is not a cooking show with writers and producers working to make you look acceptable to a TV audience. Your life is a witness to the creative flare of God in this world to make you just as you are and then even more creatively to renew you into His image. It is not our mission to increase the ratings of others who view us. Our mission is to glorify God in word, thought, and deed as we live prayerfully in a imperfect world and with an imperfect life.

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.   (Proverbs 15:3)



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