A friend and I have lately discussed the importance of personal appearance. We agree, in order to move up the career ladder and social circles, there is a certain “look” expected. She thinks people who refuse to follow this norm are not interested in success. But I think it depends on what your main purpose is in life - to impress and make money, or to minister to a segment of society that might not otherwise come near.
Others are drawn to or repelled by the way we look. Whether our look is clean-cut and stylish, or dreadlocks and tie dyed, we have a circle of people we’re best able to reach with the message of Christ.
Our friend with dreadlocks past his shoulders found victory over alcohol addiction through the power of God. He went to a faith-based rehab, where he relearned how to live life. Just before he left the facility, a visiting teacher advised him not to change his style just to fit in with other Christians.
“You will reach far more people with the secret of recovery through Christ, if you keep your distinctive look,” he said. “Those in that culture will be drawn to your appearance. It will open doors with people who would never give someone like me a second glance.” It has proven to true.
It makes me think of Jesus. How clever of God to send His Son in the form of a baby. Babies have the knack of fitting into any social circle. They don’t worry about dressing for success or impressing anyone. Everyone was at ease in the presence of God - the Shepherds, Simeon and Anna at the temple, and the wise men - because baby Jesus was not too high, too low, too powerful, nor too fashionable for any of them to approach.
The Jews expected Him to come as a conquering king, to overthrow worldly powers. However, that would have defeated God’s purpose to draw all men to himself. For who can be at ease in the presence of a all powerful monarch, and pour out all their fears and concerns? But a baby? A baby draws people in.
And as Jesus grew into manhood, people continued to come near– rich, poor, young, old, powerful, wretched, sinners, and seekers. All were drawn to His welcoming embrace. Everyone except those who were jealous of His popularity and uncompromising truth.
King Herod, and many spiritual leaders of Jesus’ time did not welcome Him. They tried to get rid of Him. He didn’t fit with their preconceived ideas of how the Son of God should look and behave. Jesus just wouldn’t fit into their dress for success code. His humility grated on them; His loving welcome to sinners, and healing touch on those wracked with disease appalled them.
Today, many deem God unapproachable. They say He is angry and demanding. They dismiss that scripture says Jesus, “The Son is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15, NIV). He didn’t come to conquer, but to call us near so we could be forgiven, and have eternal life.
If you’ve been afraid to approach God, I invite you to come to the stable and meet the baby we celebrate at Christmas. He came looking vulnerable and lovable, so we would not be afraid to stay and hear what He came to say – I love you; I want you; I am all you need.