Not long ago, I received a “friend request” from an old friend whom I had not seen in years. We had been in contact through social media over the past few years, and I was impressed with how well she had aged. She was aging with grace, to be sure. As a matter of fact, I think the social media images of her are much more attractive than how I remember her from High School! Oh to be like her and get better with age! She invited me to meet her for lunch. I can’t lie, that sounded terrible to me, because she looks 30, and I look, well, I don’t look 30.
I may not be aging as gracefully as she is, however, I have become a near expert at figuring out exactly how to hold my phone camera to take an appropriate selfie! If I hold my arm up this high and take the picture from exactly this angle, with the camera looking down at my face, it hides, or at least somewhat minimizes my pesky double chin. It also seems to thin out my face a little and take some texture off the noticeable crows feet poking out from the corners of my eyes. Then, if I apply certain filters, the puffiness of my old and tired eye lids and the unflattering bags under my eyes seem to miraculously deflate, taking years of wear and tear off my appearance! But alas and alack, it’s all an illusion.
I agreed to meet her for lunch.
When my old friend waved at me from her seat at the table for two in the restaurant where we planned to meet, I didn’t recognize her! At. All.
As I looked at the middle aged woman waving at me, my first thought was “Okay, wow, the lighting must be really bad in here!” I mean, I knew it was her because this lady was wearing a blue floral blouse, exactly like my old friend said she’d be wearing, and of course she was smiling and waving enthusiastically at me! So there’s that, but seriously, had I put the social media image of my friend side by side with the image of the woman at the table, never would I have guessed they were the same person! Never.
Not wanting to call the kettle black, I must confess that my friend was probably thinking the same thing about me! Had I not been wearing the solid fuscia blouse I’d described to her, and entered the restaurant alone, at the agreed upon time, she may not have recognized me either!
She was a fake, and I was a phony, exposed by the noticeable absence of the filters of social media! Each of us had become masters of disguise, master manipulators of our appearance, posting not-exactly-accurate images of the truth.
“Not-exactly-accurate” can also be translated . . . LIE.
Of course we all want to represent ourselves the best we can, but, we need to represent ourselves honestly. That’s not to say we can’t take extra measures to look our best, after all, as my pastor once said, “If the barn needs painting, paint it!” So applying some makeup and styling our hair etc. is not bad, in fact, it’s good! It makes us feel better about how we are representing ourselves to the general public and our friends and family, and, well, let’s face it, it makes them feel better too! We should definitely take pride in our physical appearance, but what about our spiritual appearance?
We need to be mindful of the spiritual appearance we are presenting. C.S. Lewis said; “When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the out side world.” We must take measures daily to insure that our spiritual appearance is one that will honor God, and draw attention to Him, not us!
If we are covering our sin-appearance with filters, using smoke and mirrors to convince our friends and families that we have achieved a certain level of spirituality, we are in big trouble. We may be fooling them – probably not; we may even be fooling ourselves – not likely; but one thing is for certain, we are NOT fooling God! God is immune to the illusion of filters, and He sees deep down to the depths of our soul. No filter or fig leaf can keep God from seeing the truth.
When we walk in to the throne room of God with a filter of good works, or a fig leaf of kind deeds covering our wickedness, God sees right through. He will look at us and say, “Good job with the works and stuff, but this I have against you . . . you have forgotten your First Love, ME. You’ve made it about appearances. You’re using filters and fig leaves instead of my Word. You’ve made it about YOU, instead of ME.”
Scripture tells us “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). No sin, not even a whispered curse or a fleeting evil thought is hidden from the view of God. In fact, if we realized that God Himself is the only audience for such secret sins, we might be less inclined to hide them under the useless cover of a filter.
When I walked in to the restaurant to meet my old friend, I saw through her filters and she saw through mine. We hugged, and enjoyed lunch together. By the end of our time together, the filters had come off, our wrinkles and crows feet where exposed, and we truly saw each other for the first time in 40 years, no illusions, no filter, no fig leaf.
I must say, she is stunning. As am I.