“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”
Looking Beneath the Surface
(Please read James 2:2-4)
Human nature apparently hasn’t changed much since our text was written. Many folks are still ready to judge a man on the basis of what he appears to own. In James’s time it was pretty certain that a man who wore fine clothing and gold rings was relatively rich. Today it is often difficult and may be impossible to appraise a person’s wealth by his or her personal appearance.
So the person who shows undue respect to a rich-appearing stranger may be kowtowing to a poor man by mistake! Appearances can be deceiving, and other evidence is needed before a fair appraisal can be made. The same thing is true when it comes to appraising character. Surface indications may be deceiving, so we must learn to look beneath the surface. We do this by observing a person’s attitude and actions and seeing what fruit he bears over a period of time before we can feel that we really know him.
Christianity requires looking beneath the surface in many situations, beginning with the very act of accepting Christ as what he claims to be. Unbelievers say Jesus was not divine; the Christian looks beneath their superficial arguments, perceives that their claims are false, and sees Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God.
Living faith demands discernment – seeing beyond outward appearances – in all acts of obedience and worship. Baptism is an awkward dunking, prayer a meaningless murmur, the Lord’s Supper a physical “feast” and pure religion a pious mockery, unless we see and believe their real purpose and meaning. But the deeper we look, the deeper and more vigorous our faith will become.