A flower captured my attention the other day. It wasn’t an unusual shape or size. It was an unusual color. It was a beautiful rich, deep color that I couldn’t name immediately. It was too purple to be pink and too pink to be purple. I finally realized it was magenta.
Remember magenta? That beautiful color you only got in the 64-crayon box? The color you used in every picture? I’ve known magenta since I was a kid, yet didn’t recognize it in real life. It looked so different out of the box. It was rich, deep, vibrant. Alive. Real. Three-dimensional. It took time for me to realize what it was.
It reminded me of Romans 2:28-29. The connection isn’t obvious, but stick with me. It says, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter, and his praise is not from men, but from God.”
God used this scripture in my life several years ago . . . when I was stuck on following rules, keeping commandments, checking off do’s and don’ts, working really hard to be a good Christian. God used it to show me that what I was ‘doing’ was not what He wanted. He doesn’t want a list with everything checked off. He wants my heart.
The commandments God gave the Israelites painted a picture of people in close relationship with Him—how they would honor God, how they would treat other people. But as time went on, the Israelites. . . just like me . . . got busy checking do’s and don’ts off their lists instead of spending time with their heavenly Father.
When God sent His son Jesus, He showed us ‘in the flesh’ how a close relationship with the Father plays out in real life. The Jewish leaders, who knew the commandments best, had the hardest time recognizing Jesus. They were looking for a rule-keeper instead of someone with a heart sold out to God–someone totally focused on God’s mission of loving people and changing the world. They didn’t recognize the 3-D version. He wasn’t the person they had imagined. He didn’t look like the color in the box.
It’s much easier to follow a list of do’s and don’ts than to have an intimate relationship with anyone, especially an invisible God.
But do we want to be just a color in the box?