Don’t eat that meatball until …

By Curtis K. Shelburne: Religion columnist

I don’t remember how old I was; I just remember that I was hungry. I was a boy. I was alive. So I was hungry. It was early — early, at least, for a Sunday morning.

My mother had been doing some cooking, probably for a church dinner, when I happened through the kitchen. On a platter, brown and beautiful, having just come out of the oven (I thought), were some meatballs. They looked great. So I did what any growing boy would do. I snitched one. Downed it. Pretty much in one bite.

What I didn’t know until Mom missed the meatball, and what I hadn’t known because I knew more about meatball-eating than meat-ball cooking, was that Mom had just browned the outsides of those meatballs, and they weren’t done yet.

Not even close.

The inside of that meatball was completely raw. And though the Surgeon General and other health honchos may change positions once a week or so on whether this or that or the other is good for you, I expect no one will ever say that eating raw hamburger meat is a very healthy thing.

Yes, the outside looked great, but the inside was raw.

What’s bad in “not yet done” meatballs is much worse if it’s found in the lives of men and women who claim to live for God. God’s children are called to live “transparent” and beautiful lives. What you see on the outside is supposed to be what you get, because it’s genuine from the inside out.

The pastor who preaches God’s grace on Sunday is to live in such a way that he exudes it on Monday.

The elder who prays beautifully on Sunday is to live beautifully on Tuesday.

The deacon who opens the door for a widow on Sunday is to live an open life on Wednesday.

The Sunday School teacher who leads little children on Sunday is to live a winsome life on Thursday that helps lead her coworkers look toward the Lord and not away from him.

And you probably get the point about Friday and Saturday too.

God’s people are pardoned by the blood of his Son and empowered by his Spirit every day, not just on Sundays. What people see on the outside is to be an absolutely true and authentic expression of what is on the inside. By Christ’s power, God’s people are to have the kind of beauty that counts, through and through.

Jesus used word pictures to portray this truth. If we’re not the genuine article inside and out, Jesus says that our lives are like whitewashed tombs; painted pretty as a picture on the outside but full of decay and putrefaction inside. Or we’re like bowls and plates that look spotless and clean on the outside but have the remains of last week’s supper molding on the inside. And that’s just wrong.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at