The Emphatic (Chapter and Verse part 3)

"Bear with me a little in my folly." (2 Corinthians 11:1)

Some people talk all day and really have nothing to add to the conversation. I don't know how many books I've read where I gleaned one or two things only. Hundreds of pages of text and you've got to read and read and read just to discover something, one thing, that makes it all worthwhile. Maybe I should have judged that book by its cover... Look at enough of 'em and you'll see a pattern among the pictures. Sci-fi novels that depict fantastic scenes of otherworldly adventure. The same could be said for the Fantasy genre. And we won't even go to the Romance section. But it isn't just the cover image either. After an author has "made it" by becoming widely known and read, they'll be tapped for a blurb for the cover of another book similar to their own. Usually a sentence or two about how said novel was, in their opinion, the best thing since that last one. And it's all a bunch of hot air, in my opinion. Sometimes it's perfectly fine to judge a book by its cover. But when? Good cover design makes all the difference, in my opinion. I've picked up titles from the shelf and known they weren't any good just by the font.

People are like books. I'm sure I'm not the only person to have drawn the analogy. When you think about it, our lives are our story, lived out day by day, page by page. Bear with me here. Look what Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians:

"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God." (1 Corinthians 4:5, emphasis mine) Did you catch that? Judge nothing before the time... Paul opens the chapter with a plea and a defense over what looks like a volley from his detractors. He essentially expresses his nonchalance at someone's hating on his message. And while I may not have the details, I know that his attitude alone makes me inclined to believe in what he's saying more than someone who would emphatically defend himself based, not on God's overarching hand on their life, but on some ill-stated, foolish pride.

The root of emphasis is "phasis". Greek for appearance—to show. Emphasis, as you well know, is that word used to pinpoint a particular aspect of a larger whole, for observation in part. The whole point of Paul's message—while deep, detailed, wide-reaching and far-ranging—was the preaching of Jesus as the fulfillment of the law and indeed, the elucidation of His message to those who weren't Jews (i.e. Gentiles). Whereas John the Baptist was the forerunner, Paul was the one, himself following Jesus into the forest, scattering a wide trail of bread crumbs (and stones) for those who came after.

"Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's." (2 Corinthians 10:7)

This verse is from Paul's second letter to the Corinthians. It would appear they hadn't learnt their lesson from his first letter. Paul had said after he told them to "judge nothing before the time", in the very next verse, "not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another." (1 Corinthians 4:6, emphasis mine) By the way, emphysema is from the same root as emphasis. "Puffed up", hot air. An incurable (without God) enlargement of the lungs. It's all the same.

"But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power." (1 Corinthians 4:19)

And this is where the rubber meets the road for these issues. It's in dealing with Christians who might believe just a little bit differently than you, in encountering someone whose doctrines are backward and they don't see it. Interact with them "in love and the spirit of meekness." (1 Corinthians 4:21) That's power. Anything more than this, any other reason you might have to disagree with them, be it social status, outward appearance, even some artificial patina of confidence (false power) or the lack thereof, is spiritually detracting and will end in further dividing the mindset of the body of Christ.

And if you don't think this is an issue, great. Please help others to see the way you do. Not based on appearance, but with "the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16)

"Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing." (Philippians 3:15-16)

When we make the effort to love others with the love of Christ, seeing, not the outward appearance, but the heart within, our church and our world will change.

"Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." (Philippians 2:2-3, emphasis mine)


The Language Singularity