What should a Christian look like?

By Denise Baum

Ideally Christians should look like their Teacher, Jesus. We do not expect see distinguishing outward features. Indeed, Jesus was described in Isaiah 53 as one who "had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him." Rather, the outstanding features of a Christian are birthed in the heart at salvation and mature to inner beauty throughout life. And this maturation impacts far more than physical appearance. "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16). The Holy Spirit of God dwells within the heart of a person from the moment they confess Jesus as Savior and Master. The Spirit's presence brings security and stability, and what a difference that makes.

The fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5). These inevitably impact a believer's appearance. We expect smiles instead frowns, cheerfulness instead of grumpiness, patience instead of anger, honor instead of lust, generosity instead of selfishness. Unless a person's vision is impaired in any way, the eye reveals the condition of the heart. "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness" (Matthew 6:22-23). Light is the one distinguishing feature of a Christian. They become people "without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom [they] shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:15b).

The world may have expectations regarding the dress and grooming of a Christian. There is an appearance of godliness and modesty which become a child of God. But this is not a hypocritical godliness or clownish modesty which may appear righteous but may be a coverup for sin (2 Timothy 2:3). God approves only of those who humbly and genuinely live out their faith, with transparent faces. Scripture ultimately puts the emphasis on a person's character. When a person is being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, there are few inconsistencies between the condition of the heart and the appearance of the body. Consider this analogy. "Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work" (2 Timothy 2:20-21).

What does a Christian look like? Like a sinner saved by grace. Like one who is living in the visible world, but aware of the invisible God. Like one who desires to cleanse himself from what is dishonorable and to be set apart as holy, useful to the Master for good works. We must not make the mistake of judging a person by their appearance. On the other hand, we expect that a child of God will yearn for cleanliness and beauty as an imitation of their transfigured Savior. "One thing have I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple" (Psalm 27:4).

Photo of Bev Mortiz, by her daughter Becky Moritz Bonham. Used by permission.

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Jesus-Christ

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Published on 6-12-17