September 29, 2016
(Jesus said) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence." Matthew 23:25
You may have noticed in June when People magazine selected the 50 most beautiful people in the world, I wasn't on the list.
It was quite a blow.
Now, I didn't take it personally when Vanity Fair didn't put me on their best-dressed men's list. But I also didn't make the list of the top-ten business men to watch; or the top-ten most influential authors; or even the top-ten list of retired American radio personalities, with a German heritage who have a white beard and are over 65. Nope -- didn't make it on any of those lists.
Having suffered this disappointment, I asked some of my friends to share some suggestions on how I might improve my chances for next year. Anonymous ideas filled my mailbox. Some said Botox treatments; others suggested liposuction, and laser surgery for my eyes. There was one suggestion that read: "Clone Brad Pitt and have a brain transplant."
Now there are quite a few people who would take those suggestions seriously.
There are a goodly number of folk who would eagerly run the risk of surgeries, endure the application, injection and ingestion of drugs both tested and untested, if they were sure, no, make that, if they believed there was a miniscule chance their suffering would make them more beautiful, more acceptable, more desirable -- if they thought the calendar could be stopped or slowed down for a few months or years.
Indeed, the statistics I have been given say 99 percent of American woman and 94 percent of American men would change something about their looks, if they could.
And why this preoccupation with external perfection? It is because the world, and many individuals, are obsessed with making their outsides as flawless and faultless, as perfect and pretty, as is humanly, hopefully, medically and surgically possible. In short, too many folks, like the Pharisees of Jesus' day, are preoccupied with cleaning the outside of their cup.
Jesus knew better. He knew the inside was more important than the outside.
Look at the story of His ministry and you will see He wasn't afraid to touch a leper if that touch would bring about a healing of the man's soul. He wasn't afraid to stop at the desk of a tax-collector if He could make that man into one of His disciples and a chronicler of His life. He didn't hold back from dealing with a Samaritan woman at the well if He could touch her heart and rescue her soul.
Jesus knows better because He sees us for who we really are.
We may look healthy and great on the outside, but inside we are a miserable, sinful mess. In spite of that He loves us, gave Himself for us, and now sends His Holy Spirit to call us to forgiveness, salvation and eternal life.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I give thanks You have not been fooled by our false exterior. Truly, we are sinners and in need of the grace You alone can offer. Forgive my sins and grant that I may become -- and remain -- Your grateful child. This I ask in Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries