My friend and I used to have this inside ‘friend’ language when we described someone’s beauty. She’s not here, so I’m going to go ahead and take credit for the initial categories, because, really, I do think I came up with it first. I called someone ‘trailer-park’ pretty, and the categories were born. Someone who is really pretty, but a little rough around the edges, is ‘trailer park’ pretty. Then our categories branched out into decades, like 70’s pretty, or 80’s pretty. It’s something about bone structure and facial features. These people can still be pretty, but they’re prettier in their environment and for their time in history.
Then there are people whose beauty is timeless. It doesn’t matter how you package them, the beauty shines through. They make an ugly package look good.
In the public world there are certain subjects and styles that are “cool” now, for whatever reason. Christianity goes through different fads just like any other social or cultural thing. Back in the 90’s Christian Ska music was the thing. (Remember that song by the W’s? “You are the devil and the devil is bad, you are the devil and the devil is bad…”) Right now, it’s the cool thing to be a little edgy. Pastors have tattoos and shop at The Buckle. The worship team has smoke machines and the power points have grungy graphics. It’s all about cultural relevance and I don’t see an issue with it. That is, unless that’s all there is to it.
The minute a Gospel messenger makes the draw more about him or her, is the minute they damage the message of Jesus. You’re not drawn to God because the preacher dressed super cool or the worship team sounded like they should be on the radio. You may be drawn to the flavor of the culture, but there has to be something more. Otherwise the draw will dwindle when the flavor goes out of style. You’re drawn to God because the truth about Jesus was preached. That’s the tug that lasts.
We share the message of Jesus, of grace, of unconditional love, and God draws men to Him. If people are drawn to the messenger, then what happens when the messenger isn’t cool anymore? What if the messenger doesn’t think you’re cool? When we’re pleasing them and they’re pleasing us, who is pleasing Jesus?
I’m talking about a timeless message, a timeless beauty, here.
Society, and Christians are social people, tends to discredit someone because they’re flawed. They think they make the product look bad. That’s why Sunday morning masks are so sadly important. You don’t want anyone to know your flaws, because, for shallow reasons, people think your relationship with Jesus is flawed. We all know that we make mistakes, but we’ve set up this whole thing to not allow our shortcomings to be known because we think it discredits the story of Jesus in us.
Since when can a person damage the Gospel by not being a perfect messenger? The Gospel isn’t a product we peddle. How many people won’t share their testimony of the salvation power of Jesus because they don’t think they’re good enough or because it illuminates something in us that they’re not proud of? The story of Jesus, personalized to our individual lives, is a timeless story where we become less and He reigns. It means nothing without Jesus. It’s Jesus who makes us beautiful, not the other way around.
The story of Jesus is alive in our lives. None of us are good enough. Don’t let your own insecurity sew your lips shut or keep you from writing your praise. Some of us hold back the best parts of God in us because they, more often than not, reveal the worst parts of us.
“I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” -Luke 19:40 ESV
Jesus shines the brightest when His lamp, clearly, cannot light itself. You are His miracle. If He can make a rock cry out His praise, can’t He use you?
Something that I tell myself every time my own insecurity starts clawing at my purpose is this: Every human being is made by God and for God. That means that the truth and beauty of the Gospel resonates with the core of who we are. It doesn’t matter what package it comes in, there is always a place for your story when it’s about Jesus. Countless broken hearts are searching. They are dying to hear that what brought you through can bring them through, too.
You have the words to tell that beautiful story, even as flawed as you may be. It’s not about you, remember, and thank God for that. Some of us are a mess of a story. (Hi, I’m Serena. Have we met?) Those other messes will thank God for you if you have the guts to speak up and tell them they’re not alone.
And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. -1 Corinthians 2:3-5 ESV