by Charles R. Swindoll
Sometimes fundamentalists can be the ugly ducklings of Christendom. We sometimes clothe the infinite riches of Christ in unattractive rags! As a result, the treasure of Truth is tainted and cheapened by the way it is presented to the public.
Pick most any town and drive to the church which announces that it preaches Christ and embraces the fundamentals of the faith. Chances are (with, thankfully, some exceptions) you will find an unattractive structure surrounded by pathetic landscaping. The sign is either out of date, obscure, unattractive, or big as a battleship.
Inside, you will find that the cheapest possible grade of lumber, paint, carpet, musical instruments, and furnishings were used. The piano is out of tune. The hymnals are worn out and dog-eared, some of them literally held together with Scotch tape.
Several years ago a man told me that his first contact with a Christian was so offensive he "never wanted to hear about Jesus again." He said the person who witnessed to him had bad breath and body odor, never once smiled, was dressed in clothing completely out of date, and angrily closed his remarks with, "Don't blame Jesus if you go to hell."
Meanwhile, I've just finished reading the account in First Kings where God worked through Solomon in the building of the temple. What quality! What attention to details! What exacting requirements! What fabulous beauty! No one could ever say that God didn't care how attractive His workmanship was. All you have to do is look at the beauty and intricacy of the world He created.
As Christians, we represent the magnificent King of kings. So does our church. We may not have a fortune, but whatever we do or build or sing or print or teach or type or promote or present certainly ought to be attractive and appealing. The same is true for us individually. Our wardrobe may be limited, but it can always be neat and clean. We Christians have enough barriers to overcome in this society without increasing the friction by sloppy dress, poor workmanship, and offensive habits that repel rather than attract.
Let's not change our message. But it will be worth it to change our appearance from the ugly duckling to the swan. We are His workmanship, and all we do should reflect that beauty and grace.
Sometimes people can't see past us to hear our message.
We never have a second chance to leave a first impression.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.