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
He had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
We are constantly consumed with how we represent ourselves to others and to the mirror. We judge our acceptability based upon that reflection. If we appear externally unattractive, then we judge ourselves to be so. Yet if one feels confident in his or her external appearance, then they have a forgetfulness about how their internal appearance is. If the external brings a return, than what is the use in investing in the internal person of the heart?
Christ is called to be our object of all our delight, yet if he were to appear to us today we would look at him like we look at a distorted burn victim, or someone who has been maimed. As Jesus, after the resurrection, said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (John 20:27). Wounds: the things that make a person the most uncomely of objects of attraction to the eyes of this world. Yet these wounds are the greatest display of beauty in the universe. Here we are called to place our hands in to the wounds of Christ, to feel beauty. We are confronted with all our vain notions of what true beauty is. Christ laid aside all his glory that he had with the Father before his incarnation (Philippians 2:5-8). If one were to look on that glory, they would be ravished for all eternity, not even coming close for the flick of a moment to even considering to desire to look at anything else. But Christ laid aside this glory in order to show us true glory. He became to us unattractive, ‘normal’ – if you will. And he was robbed of even this. His face beaten, his body ravaged, for the sake of love to us, to show us what is worthy of all our affection and joy and delight. This should raise our hearts against every vain and sickening notion of what is appealing that this world puts out at us. It is no wonder that Peter calls women, who are often terribly influence by men, to not make themselves attractive merely externally. This should not simply be a call to women, as in their day, but also to men, in our day. All of us have become consumed in how we present ourselves to this world.
Peter calls the woman to adorn themselves especially with two characteristics that were most poignantly noted of Christ in his death crucifixion: gentle and quiet spirit: as shown by Isaiah 53:7 “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” A sheep is noted for its gentleness, and the quietness is like Christ’s: which Peter shows us is very precious in God’s sight. These are not simply to be the adorning of women, since Christ perfectly displayed them, but they are especially and distinctly to be the adorning of women. And the sight of God here is to be juxtaposed with the sight of men. Though men may only see the external appearance such as “braided hair and jewelry” (we should insert our current infatuations here), it is not the sight of man that people are to be consumed with. When God looks on you, he is not concerned with your external adornment. When looks on you and sees “quietness and gentleness” he sees beauty. In whose eyes, then, are we striving to look beautiful in?
For us then, to learn what is truly beautiful, we must look at the cross, and place our hands in the wounds where the blood was shed that bought us from death and purchased our life. If we cannot find beauty there, we will not see beauty anywhere else in the world. We will only know a paltry notion of what true beauty is.