If Only

March 11, 2002
by Jim Messmer

1 John 2:16 – For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. (RSV)

"If only I were beautiful, then I would be loved," the young woman said to her mother.

"If only my wife still looked like that, life would be sweet," the man remarked to his co-worker.

What a sad commentary it is on our world, to hear such words, but how much more so when spoken by Christians.

Could it be that we have ignored a critical issue, because it works its evil in an all-pervasive manner around us, so insidious, so subtle, that we don't see it? Or do we prefer not to mention it, because we have already given up in defeat to a mentality that we know damages us all?

Isaiah 53:2-3 – He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (RSV)

Some will stumble over the thought, but is not Isaiah 53 saying what it sounds like it's saying, that Jesus was ordinary in the flesh, not the chestnut-haired beauty that adorns our church buildings in artists' conceptions? How appropriate it would be, if our Saviour, who surprised mankind in every other way, were also less than beautiful to behold in his flesh. How fitting it would be, if his perfection and beauty were only perceptible at a deeper level than his outward appearance. And how wretched and ungodly we are, in comparison, if, while professing Christ, we value one another based upon the outward appearance of the flesh. If people, no matter what their appearance, cannot come into a Christian congregation and escape the spirit of worldly valuation, we are no further along than those who judge by race or colour. We would remain blind, though claiming to see.

Prayer: Holy Father, if we are looking at one another with fleshly eyes, we deceive ourselves, and the spirit of Christ is not in us. May we be conformed to a higher level of living, where flesh neither draws us to, nor keeps us from discovering the spirit that dwells within each of us. May we truly become the "new creatures" in Christ, which your Holy Spirit bids us become, that we may taste the freedom of living a spiritual life. Amen.

About the author:

Jim Messmer
Washington, Illinois, USA

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