The other day I was walking with a property owner and saw a beautiful orange tree on their property. I immediately mentioned how great the oranges on the tree looked. The owner told me the oranges did look pretty, but they were not good to eat. They wouldn’t hurt anyone, but they were not sweet oranges, but very bitter and sour.
Contrast that story with another story of another friend I was visiting. This friend has several orange trees around their house. I asked if we could pick some and we did. These oranges were some of the puniest looking, mushy oranges I had ever had in my hands. I literally thought there was a chance these oranges were rotten on the inside.
Why would I tell you these two contrasting stories? Because of the outcome of course! I have eaten some of both of the oranges from both of the friends’ trees. Can I tell you the oranges that looked awful on the outside were some of the sweetest oranges I have ever laid my mouth on? To look at both of these oranges, you would almost assuredly pick the pretty orange that had a great color and was somewhat firm on the outside. As one person has told me, they almost look artificial. But when you dig into them you find the one that was pretty on the outside is very bitter on the inside and the one that is ugly on the outside is very sweet on the inside.
What is the moral of the story? There can be several morals to this story, but the two that catch my attention is not to judge a book by its cover and to be authentic on the inside because the inside is what counts. Jesus calls us to be authentic disciples. Ones that don’t try to cover up our blemishes and make ourselves look pretty on the outside. He calls us to bare all in a church setting where everyone is real and authentic so we can get the support we need. So many times we walk into church with our best orange peel on. We are afraid to let people see who we really are on the inside because we are afraid of what they will think. We are afraid of our reputation being ruined. The church is meant to be a hospital for sick people, not a place for everyone to come and show how great they are. New Shores is becoming that kind of church and I love it.