Monday, February 20, 2012

Fashion statements on the boardwalk of life

As the morning service was drawing to a close I was contemplating attending the evening service too, and the thought crossed my mind what I would wear. After all, everyone has seen my morning outfit. Certainly I can't just wear the same clothes for the second time on the same day? Then I decided, why not?

When I was growing up church was an occasion (place) to dress up for. It is still that way for many today, and there is nothing wrong with it, but as I grew older I also caught on that sometimes that is all church is about: an opportunity to look good on the outside, and if you should happen to look better than the next person, well, all the better! How sad.

How sad is it when it is more important to look good on the outside while the heart is in disarray. For some fashion labels is the criteria for acceptance or rejection - a status symbol. If you wear the right brands and hang with the right crowds then you're special somehow, and if you don't dress the part... oh well, too bad.

I used to be concerned with what I wore to church until I caught on that my Diesel, Levi, Prada, Gucci and diamonds didn't impress God. I realized that I did not experience more or less anointing, more or less deep spiritual revelation, more or less fruit of the Spirit in my life based on what I wore. God didn't notice - not even after all the effort that I've put into my appearance. He is more interested in who I am on the inside. 

Now, I'm not saying there is something wrong with dressing up. Sometimes we need to dress a certain way so people will take us seriously. I'm talking about when you think that what you look like on the outside is somehow more important than what you look like on the inside, or if you mistakenly think that your fashion label somehow makes you superior to others, and where other's lack of a fashion label somehow disqualifies them from holiness, or devalues them in any way; when you look down your nose at someone who can't afford fancy clothing.

In 1 Samuel 9:2 the Bible describes Saul as "the most handsome man in Israel. And he was head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land!" Although he had an impressive appearance, his being king didn't quite go down so well. He ended up going from one extreme to the other - first inferiority - "I'm from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of the tribe! You must have the wrong man!" ~ 1 Samuel 9:21 - and then superiority (1 Samuel 13-15), continuously defying the Lord with his disobedience and then trying to justify himself with excuses, to the point where God rejected him from being king.

In 1 Samuel 16 Samuel went to Jesse's house to anoint David as king but when Jesse arrived with his sons (all but David, of course), Samuel gave Eliab one look and thought, "Surely this is the man the Lord has chosen!" but God corrected Samuel saying, "Don't judge by a man's face or height, for this is not the one. I don't make decisions the way you do! Men judge by outward appearance, but I look at a man's thoughts and intentions." And finally he pointed out David, a ruddy-faced boy with pleasant eyes. God knew David's heart.

Then, in Matthew 23 God quite blatantly sets the Pharisees straight: they tithe down to the last mint leaf but ignore the important things like justice, mercy and faith - straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel. He describes them as carefully polishing the outside of the cup when the inside is foul with extortion and greed - like beautiful mausoleums - full of dead men's bones, and of foulness and corruption; trying to look like saintly men, but underneath pious robes having hearts besmirched with every sort of hypocrisy and sin. Gosh! He calls them hypocrites, snakes, sons of vipers, blind guides... Jesus clearly saw right through them.

Even today He sees right through us. What do we look like on the inside?

We need to "shop" in the fashion boutique of God's Word every day - where everything is "on the house" - fully paid for by Christ - and the one store that never runs out of the latest fashion trends and accessories; there's something for everyone! All you have to do is "show up" and have a look around. How awesome is that?!

If we are going to be concerned for a fashion statement, may others recognize our God-label above all else. Then, as you parade on the boardwalk of your world today, may your inner beauty be the wow-factor that will turn heads and cause people to look twice!


Anonymous said...

Wow, how powerful is this...I use to be one who thought labels and cute attire made me 'something', fortunately for me God broke me down and dealt with my inside which was home to low self esteem, low self confidence, and a dependency on a fascade to get me the things I wanted no matter who I hurt. I wore a mask for a long time, refusing to accept my reality. Time wasted but God restored that time unto me. Thank God for deliverance.

Liane said...

What an awesome story, Anonymous! Thanks for sharing :)

I like the word you use: dependency. Isn't that exactly what it is. We depend on worldly things to cover up our hurt, brokenness, pride, deep need for love and acceptance, etc., when God really wants to set us free from all that and have us live completely dependent on HIM instead - free to live the wonderful life that He has prepared for us. I think we often think that if we surrender to God He will take away what we have - that which we rely on unhealthily - and leave us empty handed. I think we fear that because we don't really know God and how deeply He loves us. But the amazing thing is that, not only does He want to make us free and whole, but He says that if we seek first His Kingdom, that everything else will be added... in effect, when we're not searching for and grabbing at it anymore, but rather grabbing at Him. Paul says that, to him, everything became worthless compared to knowing Christ. What we don't realize upfront is that, when God is through with you, what you want has also changed. Yes! Thank God for deliverance :)