“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs – beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness” Matthew 23:27-28
The outside of my house was painted a couple of weeks ago, so now it looks all fresh and clean rather than being covered in dirt stains, crumbled paint cracks and generally looking weather beaten. And while the outside now looks a lot nicer, nothing deeper has changed. It is still the same house, with the exact same walls. The rooms inside are just the way they were before the paint job. My bedroom is every bit as messy (or possibly even a bit worse…)
And I think we can be like that too in our lives. We let Jesus change us on the surface, but there is no deep transformation. We give out the impression of being good Christians, but inside our lives are a mess. We can look good to those who only see the outside, but God looks at our hearts (see 1 Samuel 16:7). He knows what is really going on. You can’t fool him with a lick of paint over the cracks.
Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for acting holy and righteous when really they were sinners who didn’t truly love God. Let’s not put on a show and dance about being holy. We need to come to Jesus, admitting our sins, our struggles, our flaws, our problems and ask him not to help us ‘paint over’ them and look good externally, but to help us rebuild from the centre, building firmly on Christ the solid rock.
God doesn’t want us to cover up our flaws before we can come to him. He doesn’t require that we get it all together first. He doesn’t need us to be perfect before he will listen to our prayers. Because of Jesus’ death we can come to him just as we are. We can be real before him, like the psalmist is in many of the Psalms, for he knows our hearts. There is no need to pretend, no need to be a whitewashed tomb. We can come with honesty, not needing to fake it, knowing that he will accept us, and, even better, knowing that he won’t merely cover over the cracks with some paint but will help us rebuild so that the cracks aren’t covered, but are completely gone. But for that to happen, we need to acknowledge that the cracks are there rather than pretend that the paint job of external righteousness has removed them. Will you take that step today?