From a distance, how do people appear to you? Bette Midler sings, “from a distance you look like my friend.” Meeting someone who has a new SUV, designer sunglasses, a sun tan with a knockout hairstyle, gold jewelry or flashy clothes can have a way of causing us to think, “this person looks like someone I would like to get to know better.”
What a bitter taste is left in our mouths if we discover the distance contributed to a facade. Perhaps up close you discovered a self-centered leech who had no clue about real friendship. Perhaps up close an inconsiderate, crude, manipulative, unforgiving or abusive personality came into crystal clear view.
Repeated disappointments contribute toward developing a hard crust of cynicism. Jesus’ disciples are to be breaths of fresh air into a stale world constructed out of materialistic designer facades. Disciples who live up to their purpose look great even close up. They are an infusion of salt and light into a world trapped in a stifling vortex of mistrust and cynicism.
Peter’s words are as relevant today as they were then. “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment … instead, it should be that of your inner self” (1 Peter 3:3). While Peter’s intent was to instruct women, the principle he describes is equally applicable to men. Men can be just as guilty in trying to call attention to themselves through appearances.
Some have mistakenly understood Peter’s words to be a prohibition against any use of outward adornment. In other words, disicples must appear plain. A closer reading of the context reveals the prohibition is not against using all forms of outward adornment, but rather in depending upon external appearances to create our attractiveness. The appeal of Jesus’ disicple should emanate from his or her character and behavior. Here is a beauty that thrives up close even under the brightest of lights.
Our world knows all about phonies. Jesus challenges his people to exhibit what this parched world is thirsty for, such as: genuine love, forgiveness, thoughtfulness, and being a conduit of God’s healing for broken lives. When God’s people are attractive to others from more than just from a distance, their usefulness to God as salt and light will be evident.
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