CORE 52 - Chapter 19 - Just Beneath the Surface
I remember a while back I was cleaning out my car and happened upon an insulated cup I had once used quite often. Apparently, I had left it in the car, and it had somehow made its way to the trunk/storage area (I drive a MINI – that space in the back cannot really be considered “trunk” space), and something had covered it up. Well, fast forward to the time when I located it and discovered that my joy was short lived. My first thought was, “Oh wow! I was wondering where that cup was.” That was quickly followed by shock and disgust as I took the cap off the cup and responded emphatically with a loud, “Oh! That stinks! What on earth is that awful smell! What was the last thing I drank from that cup?!?!” and quickly made the executive decision to discard that house-of-stenchery immediately!
It’s amazing how something can look great and spotless on the outside, while being a hive of bacteria growth and penicillin quality growth on the inside.
In this week’s CORE 52 essay, Mark Moore tackles the question, “What does it take to be a ‘good’ person?” while diving into Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount content. The focus passage is Matthew 5:20 (For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven), but the entire selection comes from verses 21-48 of that same chapter (Click here to read the entire chapter).
In his introductory thoughts, Mr. Moore makes the analogy of comparing the righteousness of the Pharisees to the concept of “broad” while the righteousness that exceeds them as “deep.” This makes me think of a swimming pool. Let me flesh this out even more by suggesting something else. I think it would be a great analogy to compare the outward acts of the Pharisees, driven by selfish motives and outward actions and the inward actions driven by selfless motives to genuinely emulate Christ to that of a swimming pool. You can have the large and extravagant swimming pool with flashy fountains and beautiful foliage all around, a twisty slide right beside a diving board right beside a pool basketball hoop. The only problem is the pool, as beautiful as it is on the surface, has a depth of only six inches. Barely enough to get your toes wet, much less pull a "2½ twist with a 1½ flip" dive off the diving board (for the record, if you can do that, I want to see it!). In other words, it looks nice, but what can you do with it?
On the other hand, maybe you’ve got a small pool, with barely enough room for 4 or 5 people to use at the same time, but it’s water goes deep – 8-10 foot deep in the middle – and those deep waters always stays cool. It’s relaxing and refreshing. It gives you relief and a place of refuge. You can really enjoy and benefit from this pool. It may not look great on the outside or above the surface, but where it counts – just beneath the surface – that’s where it excels.
I think the Lord wants the same things of us. Of course He wants us to tithe and to participate in Sunday School and to find a place to serve, but if our purpose (inward motive) is not for the right reason (the glory of God), then I’m not so sure He evens wants us to do that. Jesus is calling us to a higher standard, a higher expectation, a deeper desire for excellence in all we say and do.
My prayer is for all of us to long not for the outward flashiness of a shallow faith, but the deep refreshment and replenishment we find only when we swim around and jump in the Living Water of Jesus Christ. May our motives move us to a righteousness that far exceeds one of shallow, outward acts and deeds, and reflects our genuine desire to worship, honor and bring glory to our God.
Be good, be God’s,
P.S. - Share your comments and/or reflections from this week's reading below. Let's grow together on this journey!
I made a commitment to do Core 52 and so far am right on track. Thanks for this analogy.
I am loving this book. This week's study , one I have heard so often, gives great insight on true righteousness. I love this "True righteousness grows out of motives." I never fully understood Jesus' illustration to turn the other cheek from Matthew 5:38 - 42. It is probably one of the hardest things for me to do. I love the explanation of why this is effective. It is so simple. Yet I never really thought about it that way.
Yes, Diane! It was certainly eye opening to consider the direction of the hand and the exposure of your face to your enemy to expose their motives and misuse of their position. Thanks for sharing!