Inside and Outside

There is a lot in the news at the moment about inside and outside. We must stay inside as much we can and only go outside when we need to. We can only go outside for exercise once a day and when we get back inside, we must wash our hands. We’re staying inside to meet together when we would normally travel outside to meet.

Since the lockdown started Ros and I have been out every morning for a run. We started off running around The Meadows but quite soon got bored of that every day and have been finding new routes around Edinburgh, in particular looking for nice streets and houses. When I was at university studying architecture and building construction, I preferred modern architecture but as I run around Edinburgh now, the old buildings are my favourites.

As we run round, we see nice streets and houses and think it would be nice to live in there. It could be easy to get jealous of other people’s houses and where they live but all we can see is the outside.  Although they look nice, most of the time we’ve no idea what they are like inside or what it’s like to live in a particular house. We do know that burglary is an issue when you have a large house in a nice area.

In a similar way when we look at other people we only see what’s on the outside, but it’s still easy to judge them based on that view, either by looking down at them and thinking how much better we are or by looking up to them and thinking we’re not worthy because we don’t appear to behave like them. We may get glimpses of what they are like on the inside, like looking though a house window, but we don’t really know. God knows though – he can see what we are all like on the inside and how we really think.

The only person we should be looking at and comparing ourselves to is Jesus; we know his Father saw the inside and declared he was pure on the inside as well as the outside. We’ll never reach his standard, just as I’ll never get to live in the perfect house in Edinburgh (that I’m sure doesn’t actually exist), but that shouldn’t stop us looking to him, and trying to follow his example.

One place we have run past a number of times is what used to be Donaldson’s School in Edinburgh; it’s a grand building that has now been converted into flats and around the back of the school the developers have built some modern flats, which don’t look special themselves but have lovely views of the old building. I’ve pondered if I’d rather live in the fabulous old building or in the modern ones looking at it, concluding I’d probably prefer the view.

It has also occurred to me that if I use this as a parable, we could see our lives at the moment as living in the ‘ordinary’ building looking at Jesus, in his perfection, but from the outside. However, really I think we are on the inside – we are part of the house of God now and we can put our trust in God. Being part of God’s house is a lot to live up to, but we know he is a merciful and gracious God.

As brothers and sisters of Jesus we are living inside the beautiful house and it’s a place of safety and security. We might be tempted by what’s outside but it’s not the best neighbourhood right now. However, we need to go out to do the work of God in the world, to show others what God’s house is like on the inside and to try to reflect the behaviour of our Saviour.

So let’s not look at others, like we might look at houses and judge them from the outside. Let’s stay inside God’s house, enjoy his love and only venture outside (metaphorically) to help others and show them what it’s like inside.

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