Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Oh You Beautiful Doll

When I was a little girl, I had a doll with a adjustable hair. Push the button on her tummy while pulling her hair and the hair would suddenly "grow." I don't remember the name of the doll, but I do remember wishing I could push a button on my tummy and pull on my hair to make it longer. The image of long hair was a status symbol for women, and even as a little girl, I got the message that my short, fuzzy hair wasn't meeting the movable standard of beauty.

I had quite a doll collection, and while the "grow-hair" doll as I called her was one of my favorites, the prize-winner was my talking doll. I could pull a string and she'd talk (although her mouth didn't move). Did anyone else own a "Chatty Cathy" doll? She was so cute, but she was plastic. With batteries.

Have we become plastic Christians? Are we just beautiful dolls?

Plastic Christianity happens when the public person and the private person aren't merging. In other words, the person in public is a vision of ever-pleasant loveliness; while the person in private is not nearly as attractive and much harder on the nerves. With the public person, the hair is just right, the clothing is coordinated, and if you pull the imaginary string, the "doll" will say just the right thing. 

In private, the "doll" morphs into something not so cute.

The best appearances are temporary performances, and while looks can clearly make a person seem to be magnetic, the body is merely the soul carriage. Just as God had to remind Samuel that "tall, dark and handsome" weren't on his short list of requirements for a King, we must remember that a fine figure doesn't necessarily equal a finer Christian. We have way too many good looking bad actors, and it's failing horribly as a magnet to Christ. We are paying full retail to buy the lie that "looking good" trumps being godly.

If our only point of excellence is a beautiful form and face, what happens when we're old ladies and with aged forms, wrinkled faces and thinning hair? Even plastic gets old and brittle. This hyper-focus on outward appearance turns us into preoccupied, aging beauty pageant contestants. God is not looking for a Christian version of Miss America. He's looking for a woman with a heart for Him.

"...for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)

The longer we pretend that image makes the woman, the less effective we become. What good is it to have every hair in place if our family has to live with an emotional volcano? Will a visitor at church be more richly blessed if our purses match our shoes? Do we need new outfits for every outing, or are we trying to impress others with our "outward appearance" of being all put together? There is nothing wrong with wanting to be polished, as long as we're humbly leaving the polishing cloth in God's hands. 

When we polish ourselves, it's often so that we'll win the admiration of others. When God polishes us, He's removing rough edges and bringing out a godly shine so that people will see His image in our countenances. Our polish makes us brash and prideful; God's polish makes us gracious and compassionate. Our polish draws people to us, while God's polish draws people to Him. Do people want to know Christ because they know you?

Chatty Cathy's ability to speak only worked until the batteries ran out. If we're not careful, we'll end up just like the plastic doll that ran out of power. Plastic is cheap and abundant, but genuine, God-fearing and God-loving Christianity is precious and rare. You can't be a beautiful doll forever, but you can be a beautiful Christian for life.

"Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised." (Proverbs 31:30)

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