(Continued from previous post)
From this covering with Christ flows all things that adorn believers. Our representation and attractiveness to society is not grounded on some marketability, some cultural targeting, or some creative fanciful color scheme, as black, greys and reds to the current ‘alternative, emo, dark’ culture. The presentation of ourselves to God is through likeness with Christ, and that likeness begins and ends with a faith grounded in the person and work of Christ. The second factor of presenting and attracting the unbelieving world to God is through outwardly manifesting the inward change of heart and disposition towards God. Though a society and sub-culture groups can be affected by marketing schemes and catered advertising, the problem is that when once what attracted them wears off or fades, then so will their interest in the object of what we present to them. It is similar to a situation with a person who is physically attractive but whose personality is shallow and trite. Though you may have some initial response to what is presented, upon further inspection, if the all that the person contains is a nice pretty shell that covers a rather languid, shallow soul, your attention, desire and attraction will not be maintain for much longer than even a few moments.
We must then present to others things that are true and rich, that contain glory in them. Our deeds must be reflections of the reality that we are a part of and long to be fully enveloped in. Jesus says “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16). Our light is Christ, and he is what we must shine, and “in the same way” we do good works. We do these good works not as ends in themselves, but for a purpose: “that the world may see them and give glory to your Father” If all we present to people are capricious and fancy light-shows, concerts, flyers and cute videos, then that is the end of our works and they will glorify those things. If we come to people humbly in their circumstances and labor to meet needs, show love and grace, then the effect of the gospel in the lives of unbelievers will be radical.
There are two ways that this beauty of Christ is expressed. 1 – collectively; 2 – individually
In expressing Christ collectively, we are as a whole Church reflecting back to God his glory. We are all unified in one purpose moving to display this to God and mankind.
But what is important to note is that God is concerned with the individual expression of beauty. It is easy to think that in corporate collaboration the individual will be lost. But this is contrary to the way that God has fashioned his people. Christ looks down upon his bride, the Church, and sees a unity of diverse people. This is another area that the modern rising of Christianity has strayed. They have taken cues from our post-modern culture that is so bent on the individual and their own personal expression. This has led to such things as some of the most putrid forms of art, which lack all kinds of talents, creativity and ingenuity. In striving for uniqueness and diversity, much of the post-modern culture has become holistically useless, banal and quite out of touch with anyone else. Their expressions are useless and meaningless because they have tried to ground their movement on the expression of uniqueness. I believe that this flies directly contrary to what the Lord has laid out for us in how we are to live as individuals. Our primary concern is not to exalt our uniqueness; if we do, we are severely liable to become rather infatuated with ourselves. Our primary concern is to exalt the Lord, and in doing so it will evidence itself in unique individual expression.
God has given each differing gifts, and personalities. But it is not simply to push these. There are many of us who are far better at painting a fantastic painting but not at honoring Christ in our daily conversations. I believe that as we are more transformed into the image of Christ that our individual expressions that Christ has given to us will find their place, meaning and significance. This is the way that Christ adores his bride, as those who seek first to honor him in all things, and when we are doing so the Spirit unites us in our works and allows the intricacies of how God has created us to express itself.
Christ looks down from heaven upon his bride and we are clothing ourselves with righteous deeds (Revelation 19:8) and He loves to behold her. Let us then clothe ourselves all the more with these fine linen garments of righteous deeds.