Stop smoking. Stop drinking. Stop swearing. Dress modestly, or at least dress like us. Stop all the big obvious sin.
It’s over concern for the outer appearance or lifestyle of a person. It’s legalism. It’s religion. It’s mans anti-dote to the sin problem in the world. Fix yourself. Fix your appearance. Live by the rules. Use our formula. Strive to be better. All the while, the inner world remains untouched, unchanged.
The inner world is a literal universe. It’s massive. Our heart, our thinking, our emotions, our attitudes, our aptitudes, our intelligences (“intelligences”…plural), our perceptions, our fears, our hopes, our dreams, our expectations, our personality, our experiences, our biological and neurological processes–all of them, work together to make us who we are.
The universe within is much harder to tame, or get-in-order, than the big obvious outer stuff. This is what many call the “battlefield of the mind.”
Maybe that’s why so many people focus on the outer–it’s easier to fix and even gives us a false sense of having done something to help ourselves grow. And to others, improvement upon our outer self looks like we have grown!
But focus on the outer stuff is nothing more than procrastination, worse, it’s denial about what may be going on inside–our universe within. It’s the universe within that Jesus comes to bring life to, to set free, to heal, to infuse with hope and encouragement, and provide the grace to change–to really live for him.
As our inner world is being changed, all the big obvious outer stuff, the obvious sin, will naturally fall away–as a natural progression of growth–because we are receiving God’s anti-dote to the sin problem: Jesus’ love and grace. This is not something we can strive for, nor earn. We just have to accept what God is doing in us and have patience to let Him do it.
Anyone can change their outer appearance and live by a set of rules to fit in. People do this all the time. Only Jesus can truly free us and change us on the inside, and only if we are willing to let Him.