Read: John 7
“Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” (John 7:24, NLT)
People were making judgments about Jesus, and as we see in John 7, increasingly, those judgments were not very positive. In fact, opposition and outright hostility were coming to a boiling point, and it would soon lead to his death.
That’s the way it was with Jesus. People either loved him or hated him—there was no neutral ground. Being around Jesus demanded a position on one end of the spectrum or the other, but staying in the middle was not an option.
To arrive at an opinion of Jesus, a judgment had to be made. Sadly, those who rejected him formed judgments that were not based in righteousness and truth. Their judgments were based on the fact that Jesus had made them uncomfortable. He had challenged their traditions. His ministry had colored outside the lines of established theology. His way of doing things didn’t look like theirs. Why, he even had the audacity to actually heal someone in dire need on the Sabbath—and they didn’t like that one bit!
Never one to shy away from controversy and confrontation, Jesus challenged their attitudes toward him as well as their approach to life in general. He called them to reject this judgment-by-appearance mindset that was keeping them from seeing God for a clearer view of life as seen through the lens of righteousness. Learning to make righteous judgments would make all the difference in their world—it would lead them to see God in the daily details of their world, and in the end, it would lead to eternal life.
Unfortunately, most of the people in Jesus’ day rejected what he had to say. But the story is not meant to end there. Jesus’ challenge to “judge with righteous judgment” (NIV) or to “look beneath the surface” (NLT) calls us to reexamine the way we arrive at the opinions we hold and honestly ask ourselves whether they are based on appearance or rooted in righteousness. We form judgments and opinions every day—perhaps every hour—about the people we encounter, the events we observe, and the world we live in. Every moment of our day presents opportunity to either see the work that God is doing in the people around us and events that encounter us or to miss it entirely. And depending how we form our judgments, we will either embrace God’s work, or like the people in Jesus’ day, reject it and miss out on the greatness of God in the daily ordinariness of life.
Open your heart—God is at work all around you. Open your eyes—you’ll find God’s thumbprint on everything you encounter. And if you will learn to root your opinions, conclusions and attitudes in righteousness rather than mere appearance, you will discover Jesus in the details of your day!
“We need a baptism of clear seeing. We desperately need seers who can see through the mist—Christian leaders with prophetic vision. Unless they come soon it will be too late for this generation. And if they do come we will no doubt crucify a few of them in the name of our worldly orthodoxy.” ~A.W. Tozer
What If God Took Over?
Let me suggest you offer this prayer: “Father, help me to practice your presence in the daily ordinariness of my life. Teach me to make righteous judgments so that I might see you in every person I meet, every event I take in, every plan I execute, and in every detail of my world.”