Keeping Up Appearances
- Wednesday, November 13, 2002
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? When you catch your reflection in a storefront window, what do you think? Do you see a beautiful, or handsome person, full of potential and endowed by God to do wonderful things? Or do you tend to see that crooked tooth, those crows' feet, those extra few pounds around the middle?
Maybe you don't like to look in the mirror much at all, because it reminds you of all the things that need to be "fixed." Or maybe, you spend lots of time at the tanning booth or in the gym striving for improvement, trying to reach "good looking" status as it is prescribed by our culture.
We live in a culture obsessed with bodies. That's the bottom line (pardon the pun!). We can't grow old gracefully anymore; we have to have buns of steel and ageless skin. In fact, we are told that we can find beauty in an 8 oz. jar and youth in a vitamin pill. Television, magazines, advertisements, all bombard us daily with the faulty insistence that we just aren't good enough the way we are. Even though we may like the way we look, and desire to be content with how we are made, we are constantly reminded of our physical imperfections.
I believe it's part of our humanness, particularly for women, to walk into a group, take a look around, and begin comparing ourselves to everyone else. A little tape measure pulls out of our head (whether we are aware of it or not), and we size up ourselves, how we fit in, how we look alongside others.
But if we can, let's set aside all those messages and impressions from our culture, and hear what God has to say about our physical appearance. When God looks at you and me, what does He see?
Interestingly, the Bible doesn't waste a lot of ink describing people's appearances. We don't even know what Adam and Eve looked like, who were the original specimens of human perfection. We don't know what color Eve's hair was, how she wore it, or what shape her nose was. We don't know if Adam had a moustache or goatee, or what his body structure was. What we do know is that man and women were made in the image of God, to reflect who He is, to take care of the earth and to multiply and fill it.
In fact, many times when beauty and physical attractiveness is mentioned in Scripture, it's connected with the sinfulness of man! Sarai's beauty got her in trouble with Pharoah (Gen. 12:10-13), Bathsheba's beauty ignited the moral downfall of Israel's greatest king (2 Sam. 11:1-2). David's appearance was discounted altogether by Samuel, who pointed out that "God looks at the heart," and although we don't know exactly what Jesus looked like, Isaiah's prophecies tell us He wasn't particularly attractive.
What we need to understand is this: Your physical appearance is attractive to God because He designed you and created you exactly the way He wanted you to be.
I've never known a mother who didn't think her newborn baby wasn't absolutely beautiful in every way. Years ago, I worked as a secretary on a college campus, and many of the women who worked there were in the "growing family" stage of their lives; every time a new baby was born, the mother would bring her baby up to the campus and show it off. One day, Sue brought her baby in, radiant with pride. Her child had been born with a severe cleft palate, and wasn't as cute to look at as all the other babies had been. In fact, many surgeries were required before the birth defect was totally corrected. But that didn't matter to Sue. She loved her baby; it was hers, it was part of her, and was the most beautiful little girl in the world to her. That's how it is with God. That's how He sees us. We are His, we are a part of Him because we were created in His image. He loves us, and we are beautiful in His sight. He made us in all shapes, sizes, and colors, with characteristics unique to us because we are one of a kind, and wonderful to Him.
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