Thursday, May 30, 2013

Content over cover

Don't judge a book by its cover. Yea, sure, we've all heard that one but don't try to lecture me on the subject when I'm standing in Barnes and Nobles with a table full of new titles staring me in the face. The cover is the first thing that grabs my attention. I pick up the best looking, prettiest, most attractive covers I see. Sometimes I open the cover before I even read the title. The cover hits me before the synopsis, the author and certainly before the content.
And so it is with people. We are immediately struck by what is visible. Before a person even has a chance to open their mouth or extend their hand in a friendly greeting, we see an outward appearance and come up with an inward conclusion. It may be faulty logic and chances are, if we took the time to really meet the person and get to the heart of them, we'd find that our initial conclusion was way off base. Very few people can be summed up by the packaging they wear.
This truth has never been as apparent to me as it is now, wearing a packing that is skin and bones. My physical appearance throws up red flags and flashing lights that warn of impending danger. "Caution: this girl has some issues!" What are the issues? No one knows unless they ask but plenty assume without any further knowledge. Most assume anorexia or an eating disorder of some sort which must come from some deep seeded mental instability. I've been around enough to know the thoughts that snap into a person's head when they see a severely underweight individual. I know it so well because at one time I would have come to the same conclusion. What the common observer doesn't know is that my digestive system has been plagued for years, causing symptoms that have made life terribly unpleasant and weight to be a thing of the past. But they don't know and instead of finding out, they stay far enough away to avoid any true involvement.
Instead of finding out the content of who I am, what I believe and why I look the way I look, they judge solely based on the cover. They are making a terrible mistake. But who can blame them? Who among us hasn't judged based on the appearance?
My favorite and most cherished book, apart from the Bible, is the Oswald Chambers devotional, "My Utmost for His Highest." I never put it down without being convicted. It has spoken to my heart and grown me spiritually unlike any other modern day writing (modern being anything not written in the scriptures). Yet, that devotional has the most unassuming cover of any book I own. I would walk past it ten times out of ten in a book store. The cover is a plain brown with the title simply printed across the front in gold. The font is small and simple. The gold isn't flashy and doesn't jump out at you from its brown background. If you were looking for intrigue you would look elsewhere.
Unless you actually opened up the book to discover its content.
Inside you would find the uncompromising truth of the Bible laid out in 365 devotionals that shake off spiritual stagnation and demand growth. They convict by unabashedly declaring the truth of obedience, patience, faith, love, humility and so many more Biblical principles. Chambers doesn't hold back and never gives his reader an out for a lack of spiritual fervor. He declares the truths of the Bible, calling his reader to be changed by the word of God and the salvation of Jesus Christ.
The book that has so changed my life doesn't do a thing for me aesthetically but if I would have never picked it up I would be much poorer spiritually. God has used that little devotional book to speak to me in ways the fancy, artfully designed devotional books never have. Is that to say he can't speak to me through a book that has a beautiful cover and an appealing color scheme? Of course not. But he has chosen to use what would never catch my eye to change my heart.
When we meet people we have the same opportunity as when we book shop. In the aisle of the bookstore we can stop, read the title, take in the synopsis and decide if we want to jump into chapter one and get more familiar with the style of the author and his purpose for penning the book in hand. Or we can simply glance at the colors and pictures on the cover and grab the prettiest of them all, possibly getting ourselves into a lousy romance novel or boring book about the life cycle of a fruit fly. When we meet someone new we can pre judge and pre determine based on the physical appearance we encounter upon first glance. The question is will we get past the cover and give them a chance to show us their true content?

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