Thursday, May 14, 2009

Outward Appearances

I was in the grocery store last night and a Hindu couple was checking out at the register next to me. How did I know they were Hindu you ask! They were of Indian decent, they were speaking to each other in an Indian dialect, I know because I have a woman from India working with me and she speaks in her native language on occasion and it sounded the same. (work with me people!) She also had a jewel on her head called a Bindi. I started thinking about other faiths that have outward representations of their faith. The Muslim faith requires women to wear burqa and a hijab to cover themselves. Buddhist monks wear a yellow or orange robe and typically have a shaved head. But what about those of us who call ourselves Christian. Is there anything about our dress or appearance that lets others know who we are and what we believe? Does God's Word tell us to wear anything specific, mark our body with a symbol, wear our hair in a certain way? No, quite the contrary if you look at the New Testament. No one was attracted to Jesus or the Apostles based on what they wore. People were not attracted to Jesus because of how He looked. If you look for a description of what Christ or his followers wore there really isn't a description. Look at Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53: 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He did not come in royal robes, a jewel encrusted crown or rings made of precious metals. He came as a common man, a carpenter's son. It was not his appearance that attracted people to him, it was not what he had physically that drew people to God, it was who he was, how he served, what he offered spiritually. If I apply this though to me, I have to ask what is it about me that will let people know who I follow? Does wearing a certain outfit let them know. If I get a tattoo of a cross will that let people know that I am a follower of Christ? No, not really, it really does not have anything to do with what we wear or what we do to our bodies. The Bible is clear as to how we let the world know who we are:

Matthew 5: 14-16 14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

I Peter 2: 11-12 11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

This is not saying we can work our way into heaven or that we can earn a ticket to heaven. In Matthew 5, Jesus is talking to his disciples and in I Peter, Peter is speaking to fellow Believers. They are not telling the lost to do good deeds. They are not offering an alternative way into heaven. They are telling Believers, you and me, to do good deeds before the world and to use this as a platform to share the Good News.

John 4: 35 35 Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

Take a look around where you are, where you have a sphere of influence and see what God has for you to do. I pray that you and I would seek opportunities to serve others for the purpose of bringing glory to God.

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