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Going Beneath the Surface


While the Church should be a greenhouse for healthy relationships, it is often a place where we are content with growing plastic flowers. We are often guilty of trying to compartmentalize our faith, acting one way at church and behaving in a totally different way at home or work.

Fortunately, this artificial, compartmentalized spirituality is not what we encounter when we read the Scriptures. We see real people who are brutally honest with God, with themselves and with others. They are wrestling with painful emotions, raw feelings and the brutal realities of life in a fallen world.

They were willing to go beneath the surface.

To really get healthy, we have to be willing to move beyond the surface issues to the deeper matters of the heart.

Religious people are great at emphasizing the wrong things. Do you remember Jesus’ confrontational encounters with the Pharisees? He was continually challenging them to move beyond mere appearances to address the deeper issues of their hearts.

25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.

27 “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. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Matthew 23:25-28, NLT

God hates religious phoniness and pretense. The fact is, we are all sick to some degree. We all need a physician. Jesus said to the Pharisees:

“It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:31-32)

Can you hear the sarcasm in these words? Jesus’ point was clear – there are no healthy people. Just sick sinners in need of a Savior. This is why Jesus often asked, “Do you want to be made whole? (John 5:6)

Jesus went below the surface, moving beyond mere words and external actions to discover the motivating force behind the external behavior.

Jesus tried to refocus people to the “whys” lurking beneath the outside behavior.

Here are some great “why” questions you can ask yourself:

• Why am I always in a hurry?

• Why am I impatient?

• Why am I so anxious?

• Why am I so concerned that others tell me I’m okay?

• Why do I have such a hard time relaxing?

• Why do I discipline my kids in anger?

• Why am I over-concerned that I succeed in my job or ministry?

• Why do I avoid confronting difficult people at church or work?

• Why am I depressed?

• Why is there a knot in my stomach?

• Why am I suffering from tension headaches & insomnia?

Emotional health comes when we are willing to take the time to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us about the deeper issues driving our activity. Give Him permission to go beneath the surface.

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