Much of today’s world revolves so heavily around advertising, product placement, and, most importantly, the picture or image of the product. Billboards advertise a plethora of products, many of which are being developed day by day, all of which make out the product to look the best it can possibly look. Why shouldn’t companies make their goods look wonderful? They are, after all, selling a product and must do what they can to sell it. Take restaurant advertisements, for example. Walk into any McDonald’s or Burger King and look at their menu—chances are that the pictures of the food will make your mouth water. They look so delicious! However, when the burger is unwrapped, it looks much less than beautiful. Another example is jewelry. More often than not, the lighting in a jewelry case is set very precisely so the colors and textures of the rings, pendants, and gemstones are brought out. Unfortunately, when worn on a finger in everyday lighting, the jewel loses its luster.
What is it about image that is so important? Is it that the product won’t sell without the merchandise being visually appealing? If a company were to advertise show products as they normally appear, would they be bought? Does marketing play such an important role that we must modify what it looks like before someone will buy it? Many times, the answer is yes.
The true question is “does the physical appearance of a person affect his or her credibility at his or her profession?” Is a businessman still a businessman if he wears jeans and a t-shirt to the office? Is a professor still able to teach if he has long hair and wears sandals? Can a pastor still be a devout Christian if she has a face full of piercings? Can Jesus still be Jesus if He doesn’t look like we think He does?
The answer, once again, is yes.
The problem is that socialization has taken a toll on our beliefs about what a person should look like when they are in a certain position. If one doesn’t look the part, they aren’t taken seriously as what they are; but, looks are deceiving.
In your mind, when you think of Jesus, what image comes to your mind? Surely, there are many artists representations of what our Lord may have looked like. Look at the various pictures of Jesus that are on this page. Some are what you may expect Him to look like, while others are farther from how you’ve ever imagined our Savior.
“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” ~ 1 Peter 3:3-4
We see that God does not wish for our physical appearance to be what gives us substance. Expensive clothes, fine jewelry, and fixing ourselves up nice and pretty are not important to God. Why would they be? The body ages and grows old, eventually returning to the dust from which it came. What substance does a pile of dust have when it is adorned with fine gold and gems? The people passing by will pay no attention to the dust, but steal from it the expensive things that adorn it, for it is merely a pile of dust.
There was nothing about the appearance of Jesus that would lead anyone to follow Him. His status in life was not that of the Pharisees and Sadducees; He was a carpenter, not a noble. His clothing was nothing special, nor did he wear rings of gold. He even met and dined with individuals who were considered crooks and sinners. Look even to the disciples that He called. Fishermen. Tax collectors. Persecutors. Nothing about these people gave Jesus any high image in life, whether physical or social. Why, then, did Jesus call such questionable people to begin the most profound ministry of all time? We see why in 1 Samuel 16:7:
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7
Of all the people Jesus could have chosen to be His disciples, He chose people based not on their social image, physical beauty, or financial prosperity; instead, Jesus Christ looked at the heart of those who He called centuries ago, and so does He do today. Many people in life attempt to impress others by looking beautiful with makeup, large estates, and sophisticated linguistics. This is on the body, but what is in the heart? The true intent of one’s ventures—ulterior motifs, if you will—are the heart of a person. If a person acts in one way, dresses one way, and presents herself in some way, we only know what she puts on for those around her. Only Christ knows her heart.
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” ~ Proverbs 31:30
The above scripture does not, by any means, that charming or beautiful people are in the wrong. Some people have natural charm, which may be a gift from the Lord, and the same goes for beauty. All people have attributes to their character that are given by God for His glory. The true message of Proverbs 31:30 is that it is not what is beheld by human eyes that matters. Instead, it is what God perceives in the heart of the charming, the beautiful, the impoverished, or the sinful, that truly matters.
As you go about your week, do not worry what others think of you so much that you forget what truly matters to God. Your heart of hearts is what truly matters to Him, not your cloth of cloth. Set your minds and hearts up with the will of the Father, and you will please Him and experience closeness with the Father that loves you more than any other. Appearances are deceiving, misleading, and temporary, but the eternal soul that God sees within you is permanent. Always remember this: Jesus is still Jesus, whether He is portrayed as you have always thought of Him or not.
Go with God, and He’ll go with you. Bless you all.