Unfading beauty

But God values inner beauty

1 Peter 3:1-12 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God. … For instance, Sarah … You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear.

1 Samuel 16:7 People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

Last week, while taking a photo requested by the publisher of the Karis book in Brazil, I accidentally caught my face in an unguarded moment. When I saw it, I was dismayed and promptly deleted it. Is this what people around me have to look at? For the first time, I felt old.

Diane Morris, a friend since 1988 when she cared for missionary kids at our new mission agency, OC International, left a lovely little book with me after a recent visit. It’s called 31 Days of Encouragement as We Grow Older, by Ruth Myers. Diane told me, “It will be fun to know we’re reading the same thing!”

Tuesday’s topic was “Never Too Old to Change.” Ruth writes, “It’s never too late to grow in important ways. … We can pray, Lord, show me things you especially want me to overcome by growth in the three things so important to you—faith, hope, and love. We can pray for increased faith in God—for quiet trust in place of anxiety, fear, or an ‘I can’t’ feeling. Someone infinitely bigger than us is in control. More and more, Lord, may I choose to trust in you.”

Is anything more attractive than quiet, confident trust in our Lord? Teach me, Lord, to do what is right without fear. Increase my faith.

P.S. I wrote this post before reading about the Southern Baptist “Abuse Apocalypse,” here and in other accounts.

Without question, this fits with the theme of God looking at our hearts rather than appearances. Interestingly, I had just read two relevant chapters in Diane Langberg’s (a second Diane for today’s post!) must-read book, Suffering and the Heart of God, How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores (2015). Chapter 12 is titled “Leadership, Power, and Deception in the Church and the Home”: Power has been given to us so that the world might see something of the glory of God in the flesh—full of grace and truth. That glory is evidenced in humility, love, sacrifice, and death to anything that is not like Jesus Christ. It is a hard road (p. 212).

I highly recommend Diane Langberg’s crystal-clear account of how self-deception leads to the abuse of power. In Chapter 13, “Sexual Abuse in Christian Organizations,” she says, “Some of us have faced the power of systems that name God’s name yet look nothing like him. … We forget that anything done in the name of God that does not bear his character throughout is actually not of him at all” (p. 220).

Here is how she closes the chapter:

Our God demonstrates again and again in his Word that his kingdom is the kingdom of the heart, not the kingdom of institutional structure. … God hates sin wherever he finds it and has gone to death to destroy it. Do we really think he wants us to avoid the death of an organization or institution by hiding sin, by failing to drag it into the light? He would rather see every human organization and institution fall than see such things preserved while full of sin. … When Jesus first called his disciples, to what did he call them—a profession, a creed, a task? No, he first and foremost called them to himself. I fear sometimes we have lost that call … breaking the heart of the Shepherd. He desires our primary allegiance to be love and obedience to him no matter the cost. When we pursue him above all else, the body of Christ will be the safest place on earth for the most vulnerable sheep. … May we, who are already in positions of power and influence, lead the way by falling on our faces, imploring God to make us like himself no matter the cost to our positions, our programs, our organizations, our ministries, or our traditions (pages 228-229).

We could add, I think, “or our politics.” We can’t put anything ahead of Christ in our hearts.

2 thoughts on “Unfading beauty

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