Puttin' on the Ritz
My daughter left for summer camp a few days ago. As I waited for her to leave, a flood of memories rolled through my mind. I vividly remember being 16 years old, staring at myself in the mirror of our dormitory-style bathroom, lathering my face with shaving cream, and scraping off what little stubble I had! Then I dressed in my best – albeit very wrinkled – polo shirt and jeans. After applying a splash of Cool Water cologne, I headed outside to the open-air tabernacle.
Why did I undertake such an elaborate routine? Why, I had to look my best when sitting in the summer heat surrounded by a swarm of Jesus-loving young ladies! My hope was to find one that would share her pillow and relieve the discomfort of the hard, wooden benches we had to endure!
In some ways, that part of my life hasn’t changed much. I still try to look my best, but now it’s for my beautiful wife. Most of us have an internal drive to look (and act) our best for people we want to impress. The occasion doesn’t matter. Be it a first date, job interview, or meeting the parents, our culture has trained us to understand the value of first impressions.
If we’re not careful, what happens after that first impression can be a little…well…yucky. It’s really easy to start with our "best" and but follow up with just "okay." It’s important for our follow-through to be strong.
Laxity can happen in our personal lives, at work, and in countless other areas. As Christians, this kind of complacency can really muck up our witness. We start by being great examples of Christ-like love and character, but over time the way we reflect him grows dim.
Colossians 3:17 in the New Living Translation says this…
“…whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus.”
The book of Hebrews says pretty much the same thing when it tells us to be an “exact representation” of Christ. We should not be a fuzzy copy, an approximation, or our own lackluster interpretation of who Jesus is.
We ought to “shave off the stubble, press the wrinkles out of our spiritual garments, splash on the cologne of the Spirit” and face the world as the best Christ-followers we can be.
In Matthew chapter 5…the Sermon on the Mount...Jesus gave us two amazing word pictures as examples. I really like the descriptive way The Message says both.
In his first word picture, Jesus said we need to be salt…
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?”
Matthew 5:13 (MSG)
Few things are worse than sitting down to a freshly-prepared meal and discovering it’s completely flavorless! Many times all that’s needed is a little salt! The correct amount helps bring out the natural flavors of the ingredients.
The Bible says, “taste and see the Lord is good.” As Christians we should be “salty” enough to serve a “flavorful” gospel to people who don’t believe…not a representation of God that’s dull, tepid, or bitter.
In the second word picture Jesus told us to be light…
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.”
Matthew 5:14 (MSG)
You’ve probably seen how a prism breaks visible light into a spectrum of seven different colors. When mixed together in different proportions those colors create millions of shades and hues.
Science may have discovered this effect, but God created it! When you’re shining as “the light of the world,” you are a living prism that displays the beauty of God in all his brilliance! God is not drab and he certainly isn’t dull. Our projection of him shouldn’t be drab or dull, either.
So…as a Christian do you spiritually “dress your best” for the people around you? Do you show what living for God is really like…or are you just okay? Starting right now, I challenge you show off your best Christian life every day!