Appearances can deceive.
Over the weekend I watched one of those DIY shows. A young woman purchased a cute, completely refurbished bungalow. After a few months the surface restorations began to crumble because the previous owner merely covered over serious, costly-to-repair problems.
As a first-time owner, she was overwhelmed and tempted to walk away. But the house had a solid foundation and structure. Experienced professionals peeled away the shiny appearance, exposed the systemic issues, and repaired them properly.
The show reminded me of a story. An architect visited the Wexner Art Center at Ohio State University. The building design reflects a post-modern view of reality. Pillars support nothing. Staircases go nowhere. The idea is that there’s no pattern—to the building or to life.
As the guide explained the designer’s vision, the architect asked, “I wonder if they designed the foundation the same way.”
“Of course not,” replied the guide, “the building would collapse.”
Maybe Christmas is a bit like that. As we get lost in the lights and tinsel, the gifts and expectations, we forget that appearances can deceive.
Maybe we decide the whole thing’s a sham. It’s all wrapping paper and commercialism, and when you strip that away there’s nothing worthwhile. So we toss aside the whole notion and walk away.
Maybe we decide it’s only what we see. Maybe Christmas means nothing more than shiny toys and parties. Maybe it’s all pillars supporting nothing and stairs going nowhere, with no pattern or meaning, so we just give in to “Happy Holidays.”
Maybe we, like the builders, we learn to see the structure and the foundation.
That takes discipline because, let’s be honest, foundations aren’t all that sexy. Nobody walks into a really cool house and says, “Wow, that floor looks really stable.”
It’s nice to paint the walls. It’s just a good idea to make sure the walls are solid and waterproof first.
There’s nothing wrong with a silly, whimsical, aesthetically challenging building, either. It’s fun to walk around and point and wonder. But I’m not going inside unless the foundation designer knew what He was doing.
I like the lights and the music. The shopping and crazy commercialism—I pretty much ditched that a long time ago.
But the Jesus part—the foundation—I want to see that more clearly.