I am a glass bucket filled with sand.
Perhaps you haven’t read my previous blog entry. If not, I am fully aware that the above statement is a little out of the ordinary. Feel free to scroll down to the previous post first in order to shed some light on where we’re at.
So often we can hide who we really are, where we’re really at, or what’s really going through our head. What’s on the inside (our ‘sand’ in this analogy) becomes hidden beneath an artificial shell that portrays something that we determine more acceptable for others to see.
When we are our most real, our external selves are like glass buckets that reveal to others exactly who we are on the inside. These glass buckets display the sand and in turn, the sand reflects our true selves. However, there is a problem with glass.
It is not very strong.
When we present our real selves to the world around us, it is easy to become more fragile. Our harder shells could deflect and absorb personal attacks because, after all, it was only a representation of what we wanted to be rather than a direct reflection of who we were. However, when we become like glass buckets, criticisms can smash, crack and break us. We have to lower our defenses and hope for the best. When it’s put like that, it’s pretty hard to be real isn’t it? In Jesus’ day, a law-obsessed group of people called the Pharisees were so intent in looking like they had it together that they created shells that didn’t really reflect who they were on the inside. In Matthew 23:25-28, we read Jesus’ opinions on this:
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
I am certainly guilty of being like a ‘whitewashed tomb’ sometimes. There are times where I’m so embarrassed of who I am and so petrified of the impact a few harsh words could have on me that I end up trying to be something I’m not. I’m realising more and more that the challenge of following Jesus isn’t appearing to be doing the right things at the right times. That’s easy. The challenge is doing the right things for the right reasons at ALL times and reflecting an authentic character from the inside out. God’s sanctifying work in us is life-long, and He loves us regardless of our weaknesses. There is no need to find artificial strength in catering for the opinions of others. Similarly, there is no need to find strength in being artificial to find acceptance in the opinions of others. Our strength comes from God, and God alone, as the psalmists highlight quite nicely:
Psalm 28:6-8 (New International Version, ©2011)
Psalm 118:13-15 (New International Version, ©2011)
Becoming like glass buckets filled with sand is dangerous. Presenting ourselves as we truly are will not always be pretty, and we will almost certainly get hurt when we rely on ourselves. With our own strength, we are fragile and weak, and can barely carry our own load. But God is our strength. He will carry us through the hard times, and the rewards for working on our character will be phenomenal!