“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.” (2 Corinthians 5:16a)
Are you familiar with the term used in computing, “wysiwyg” (pronounced wiz-ee-wig)? It’s an acronym for “What you see is what you get.” It indicates a system of editing in which the end result will look like what you’re seeing during the process. As you can imagine, it can be very helpful. But the term doesn’t hold true for people. Much of the time, what you are seeing is only a façade for what is truly there. This goes both ways, I think.
Paul tells us three verses prior to the one above that there were, and are, those within the family of God who “glory in appearance.” They are like the scribes Jesus talked about in Mark 12:38-40, who wore “long clothes” and prayed “long prayers” but came up short when it came to sincerity. As He says, their look of piety was just that: a look, not a life. And it is possible for you and I to limit our fellowship and esteem to those believers who look and act identical to us, placing ourselves in the same unenviable category of those who “glory in appearance, and not in heart.”
By the same token, the tendency to dismiss out of hand the least likely among us is to mimic the attitude of the Pharisee who was quick to point out his own spiritual strong points at the expense of the publican, who had little more to recommend him than his ability to see his own sinfulness (Luke 18:10-13). No small endorsement, as it turned out (v.14). The vessels of honor and dishonor talked about in 2 Timothy, chapter two, had one thing in common; they were both in the “great house.” And the Pharisee and the publican were alike, in that both went up to the temple to pray. When I go to church on Sunday, I don’t always look like some others sitting around me; but I am aware that some of these who are fellow believers may have daily fellowship with God that rivals, and perhaps surpasses, my own.
Whatever Paul may have meant when he compared the way we see one another to the folly of trying to limit Jesus Christ to the body He occupied here on earth, it is obvious that just as there was so much more to the Man, Christ Jesus than what they were able to see and handle (1Jno.1:1), this fact remains: what you see is not always what you get. What you get—what is truly there—may be much less…or much more than what it appears to be.