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Monday, October 16, 2017

Look Different

Long ago, God chose you to be Holy and Different.  Christians are meant to Think Different, Act Different, and today I want to share that we should Look Different.  Of all the sermons in this series, I was concerned about this one the most.  Why did God want me to talk about how Christians should look?  I was concerned so I spent a lot of time praying and meditating on this subject.  And I thought about the different ways different Christians have looked and dressed over the years.  And to make things easy, I’ve compiled a few slides showing how Christians can look different. Maybe you would like to choose one of these looks?

You could choose the monastic look of the monk or the nun.

You could choose the 16-17 century clerical stylings of Jonathan Edwards or John Wesley.

Or maybe you would like the more contemporary look of the Christian t-shirt or contemporary music star Colton Dixon's frohawk.

Or you could opt for a more glamorous televangelist hairdo.

Or if that's not hardcore enough, you could go with the crazy street preacher look.

Or if you're really into hats in church...

With "No Shave November" fast approaching, there's even a handy guide for Christian beard styles:
Maybe, if we really want to know how Christians look different, we should just go to the Word of God for advice.
Matthew 5:14-16
14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Jesus’ Fashion Advice
            Jesus didn’t give much fashion advice.  he did talk about the Pharisees fashion statements once.  The Pharisees liked to dress in elaborate robes ordained with boxes called phylacteries that held tiny scrolls of scripture.  They liked to be noticed and to look "holy," but Jesus warned they were like white washed tombs, beautiful on the outside but, on the inside, full of dead men's bones.
            In the sixth chapter of Matthew, Jesus said you shouldn't worry about what you will wear; He said the lilies of the field are better clothed than anything King Solomon ever wore (and Solomon was the richest man who ever lived).
           In Matthew 5:14, Jesus gives a few images of how we are to “look.” It has more to do with our character, but it can affect the way we look too.  The images he uses are:  light, a city, and a shining lamp. 

Christians Shine
            Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit and have an inner light that shines.  There something special about them that transcends clothes, age, or even the world’s standards of beauty.  Our inner lights leads us and even gives light to others, but in order for the light to shine, you have to open yourself up to the Holy Spirit.  You have to listen for what the Spirit is trying to say and then obey--even if it's uncomfortable or challenging.  When you cooperate with the Spirit, you become more like Christ.
            You will find you also give light to others.  Christians are called to be a witness.  When someone joins as a member of my church, they promise to support the church with their prayers, the presence, their gifts, their service, and their witness.  Obviously, being a witness means telling people what Jesus has done for you.  But even if you don't say anything, people see the way you live.  If you are a Christian, someone is watching to see what you will do whether you know it or not.  And if you let the Holy Spirit lead you, it will lead others as well.
            There's something else about that shining inner light.  Jesus said it can't be hidden.  He said we shouldn't try to hide it anymore than we should try to high the light of a lamp.  I'm so thankful I live in America--a land where we have the freedom to live as a Christian without concerns about our safety.  That was not the case for the earliest followers of Christ and it is not the case for many Christians who live in places like North Korea, China, and Africa today.  Many Christians have to worship in secret and try to keep their faith hidden.  Can you imagine the burden of that?  How do you keep your faith in Christ secret when it causes you to shine like a lamp or a city on a hill?  I'm so glad Christians in America don't have to hide our light.  And I think we ought to try and shine as brightly as we can in honor and memory of those who didn't have this privilege.  How dare we disrespect those who suffer for Christ by taking our shining privileges for granted?
Christians Gather Together
            I have discovered I am truly country person at heart.  I always thought I was and never would have called myself a big city kind of person.  However, before I moved to Cohutta, Georgia, I always lived in a city or a town.  Every place I've lived my whole life was populated enough that you could walk to a store within 5 or 10 minutes.  Now we live in the country and it takes a minimum of 15-20 minutes to drive to the nearest store.  It would take an hour to walk.  I guess that's the definition of country to me and I like it.  I like the way it's quite and peaceful out in the country; there's fewer people.
            But Jesus said Christians are like a city on a hill.  A city is a large human settlement.  By definition, cities are a gathering together of lots and lots of people.  And that tells you something about how Christians look.  Christians gather together in groups.  You can't have a city with just one person and there are no solitary Christians.  Christians must come together. 
            Think of the two most important ceremonies in the Christian Church.  The two sacraments that Jesus commanded his followers to practice are Baptism and Holy Communion and you can't do either of them by yourself.  You must gather together with other believers to experience them.  Christians look different because we are always gathering together with other Christians to worship, to study, to serve, to grow, to hold on another accountable, and to just share life. 

Christians Have Scars
            I have this old truck I've been tinkering with--a 1978 Ford F350.  I love the truck I call "Dry Bones."  It used to be a dump truck.  They say farm truck live a hard life, but the life of a dump truck is just brutal!  You can see the scars from that tough life in the rust that covers her.  But it's the rusty old worn out look that I like most about Dry Bones.  It reminds me so much of the Christian life.
            You see, Jesus comes to us when we are broken and beat down by the consequences of our sin.  He loves us, despite our ugliness, and he redeems us and gives us a new life.  That's what I think about when I see my Dry Bones truck.  It was just a worn our dump truck discarded and forgotten, but I'm bringing it back to life and making it cool.  People stop me all the time and tell me, "Man, I really love that truck."  And they love it, not because it's shiny and new.  They love it because of the old rusted, worn out look.
            Dry Bones is a good picture for how Christians look different.  Christians have scars.  Even Jesus had scars.  In fact, the risen Christ often showed his people his scars to prove it was really him.  "Look," he would say, "Here are the scars where the nails pierced my hands.  Here is where the spear pierced my side."  Jesus scars are not an ugly thing anymore.  Now, they are a badge of honor that shows what he did for us--how much he loves us.
            Christians have scares too--scars left by sins others did to us and sins we inflicted on ourselves.  But a scar is not a live wound.  It is a wound that has been healed.  And if Jesus is healing you (that who Christians are--those who Christ has healed and/or is healing), you will have the scars to prove it.  And your scars aren't an ugly thing; they are a badge of honor that glorifies God and shows what Christ has done for you.  Don't be afraid to show your scars--to say, "Here.  Here is where Christ healed me form my sin."  Our scars tell our story.
            But some might say, " I don’t have any scars.  I’ve always been in the church"  Well, your scars might be smaller, but they're still there.  One of the godliest people I know is Sara Brooker.  She is known thoughout our church and even the community as a true saint.  Sara's been in church pretty much her whole life and will tell you she can't really remember a time when she wasn't a Christian.  But she will also be the first to tell you, she has struggled with sin and wishes she were more Christ-like.  And I'm always thinking, I can't think of a more Christ-like person on earth, but she sees she falls short.  If Sara has scars, then we all do.  Don't be afraid to show your scars so others can see how Jesus has healed you. 

 "Yeah, But How Do Christians Dress"
            If you were reading this blog to find out how Christians should dress, I will leave you with to scriptures to help you out. 
Luke 12:35Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast.
1 Peter 5:5And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
            So, be dressed for service and dress yourself in humility.  There.  That's your Christians fashion advice. 

            Remember, God chose you long ago to be different, to be holy.  God chose you to think different, act different, and look different.  You should like a city on a hill shining for all the world to see so that the world may glorify God who chose you and made you holy different.  Are you ready to look different?

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