Week 6 Day 5
Philippians 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
I Samuel 16:7b The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
I was reflecting today on the ways in which worshipers have changed in their attitude and appearance over the years of my association with one of our major “Holiness” denominations. Before you go off celebrating the “throwing off of the yoke” of suppression and bondage to forms step back and take a kind of “chicken and bones” approach to the state of worshipers yesterday and today. In Jesus’ time clothing also ran the gamut of styles, meaningful colors, and situation appropriate dress. This was particularly significant among the Roman aristocracy, and Jewish merchants and let’s face it just as today, anybody with a couple of denarii to rub together considers themselves a cut above the poor. One need only read the Acts of the apostles to know this truth.
Early on the holiness movement developed a whole set of standards for dress and outward behavior which, if I were being fair, were supposed to mirror the inward condition of the heart. The clothing, the hairstyles, the manner of speech, the selective engagement with others tended to move “holiness folk” pretty far along the continuum toward asceticism, which in reality is just another form of Gnosticism. If this is confusing to you I would simply say that we need to look at the whole picture of the scriptures again. God has a different standard of beauty. God has a different standard of what it means to be holy. How you appear to the world reflects your inward regard for your self.
Remember the admonition of the Lord Jesus to “love our neighbors as ourselves” (Mark 12:31 et al)? Jesus came to us in the fulness of humanity. Every struggle, every challenge, every temptation was there before him. Why? Because we need to get over ourselves. We need to aspire to the Gospels; we need to endeavor in all things live up to His holiness. We need to throw ourselves on His great mercy every day and thank Him for showing us the Way.