As usual, and I say that with great sadness, there are definite pros and cons to working for a Christian organization. This week I was nearly mortified to hear that a co-worker was reprimanded for her dress, and was told that she was being a "distraction to the men" in the organization.
A little background: Now I haven't known this young woman long, but my first and second and third, impressions of her were this: She dresses quite modestly for a young woman, just out of college. She is always wearing skirts to her knee, and most often turtleneck sweaters. I have never seen her in anything low-cut, too tight, too short or anything that would warrant such a reprimand. And let me add, another impression I've had of her: she is kind, generous, friendly and well liked by at least 95% of the women in the organization.
I worry for her now. I mean she does have a shock of red-Irish long hair. What next? Will they make her cut it short? Wrap it in a scarf? Dye it? Because it's a distraction??
So often people get overly preoccupied with exteriors and completely neglect the interior.
I grew up in a church where your appearance dictated how "Christian" you were. How long your skirts and sleeves where, how long or short your hair was. Whether or not you wore make up or jewelry.
My point is this - how you model after Christ, his thoughts, his actions, his attitude in life, is what's truly important when you're talking testimony, appropriateness, and level of Christianity (if there's truly such a thing). It's not only about being more like Him on the inside, it is being like Him on the outside. (no I'm not being contradictory, by outside I mean in our actions, in our daily life - in case that needs clarification, and I know in the case of some Christians I know - it would.).
That's not to undermine the need for modesty in our physical appearance, 'cause how can anyone see Christ in us, when they can't get past ostentatious dress, hair or accessories. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against caring for your physical appearance or making efforts to look nice.
However, we do live in a culture obsessed with appearances. I figure, based on the restrictions other very "religious" countries, put on their people, most especially their women, that most cultures are obsessed with appearances. I'm deducting, seeing that in the New Testament dress or appearance is mentioned several times, that appearance have always been an issue for the human race.
And, unfortunately we live in a culture with churches that are obsessed by appearances. Unknowingly, ignorantly - I don't know which word is appropriate, they fall into the same attitudes, obsessions, and shortcomings that those old Pharisees did. Losing focus on your relationship with and passion for God, while focusing on appearing holy or spiritual or Christian in our case, is a danger we all need to be aware of and avoid. Can't we learn from their mistakes? Wasn't thatHis point by pointing it out, knowing that centuries later we would be reading our bibles as a guide to life?
Why is it that we can't focus on Christ and His version of being good, just and holy: "And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone's opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances." Matthew 22:16
It's as if we've lost Christ in Christianity. For all of our efforts these days to "seek after Him", and "be more like Him", why does it seem that so many are only drifting further away from Him?
I have that song in my head, by the Barlow Girls :"I'm not going to listen to the list of things I should do. I won't try. No I won't try. ...
Hmmm.. just some food for thought.
Oh, and see this post by Josue on being different.