Take, for instance, all those home shows. A horrible yard turns into a resort-inspired retreat with the help of a professional crew and some willing homeowners. An ugly, grime-encrusted kitchen morphs into a warm, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing hub of the home.
As of late, I've been enjoying the guilty pleasure of before and afters. My yearning to release some pent-up creativity and rid my home of bland, boring decor has resulted in the application of numerous paint colors in a variety of patterns. The results have generally been well-received. But the highest cudos come from folks who know how yuk the hallways and rooms looked before the creative crash rushed in and took over. They knew the before and can appreciate the after.
But these aren't the only kind of impressive before and afters. Think about all those print ads and TV commercials touting the benefits of some new fang-dangled weight loss program. The before shots show plump, pudgy, and positively unattractive people. But the after shots? Well, the previously fat and frumpy are now bikini-clad, pumped, and primped.
The same goes for the age-correcting serums. I should know about this one. I've been researching the benefits of this lotion and that potion, all in an effort to slow down the skin sag in my face and the orange-peel skin on these 'ol legs. There are some pretty amazing testimonials and wonderful before and after photos. Ahhh...If only they were all true.
The trouble with many before and afters can be found in the small print: "Results may not be typical." In fact, in weight-loss advertisements, 88% of all ads contain those infamous side-by-side comparisons. The first photo is snap-shot quality with poor lighting, horrible posture and a blank and listless expression. In contrast, the after shot is most often studio quality, the model smiling after a hair and makeup session, standing straight and tall and sucking in everything that could look flabby. Plus, a good photographer with photo-altering skills at his disposal doesn't hurt either. Hence, though the ad promises hope of a magnificent before and after, the truth may be disguised.
Oh dear. What if someone took a picture of my spiritual before and after? I wonder if there would be a sharp contrast between images. And, I have to question if the after image is for real. Have I painted on a facade to give an appearance of a polished, mature Christian when, in fact, it is merely a creative illusion?
"What you see is what you get." Is it really? If we are truly a Believer, the before and after should be obvious and verifiable.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:17-21)