Thursday, September 22, 2011

Identity Part 3- Acceptance (Appearance)

We began this week's Wednesday Night Worship with an activity to hype this Sunday's Chris Sligh concert.  Similar to Who Wants to be a Millionaire, we played Who Wants to win Chris Sligh Stuff.  We drew names and Hayden was our lucky contestant.  He had to answer questions about Chris Sligh and the things we have covered the past two weeks of WNW.  He got them all correct and will be receiving a Chris Sligh sticker, CD, and t-shirt.  After that we had a time of worship where we sang Marvelous Light, Salvation is Here, Cannons, and Good (a new Chris Sligh song that our band is playing with him on Sunday morning).  Our mission moment of the week was to pray for the unreached people group of the Tamil Muslim of India.

In this week's lesson in the "Identity" series we continued our focus on acceptance and specifically our appearance.  We all desire to look nice but if we are not careful our appearance can become our identity.  I began with the question "What does your personal appearance say about you?"  I let them sit quietly for a moment to consider that.  We have to ask ourselves if we are trying to hide behind our appearance or if we are trying to draw attention to ourselves with our appearance.  We also must consider if our focus on our appearance causes us to take our eyes off of God.

We took another look this week at the Pharisees and how they tried to draw attention to themselves with their appearance.  Jesus rebukes the Pharisees in Matthew 23:1-5 and makes mention of their phylacteries and tassels.  The Jewish men wore tassels with a blue cord that were attached to four corners of their garment as a reminder to obey God's commandments and to be holy.  The Pharisees were making their tassels longer in order to be more visible and draw attention to themselves.  They also broadened their phylacteries.  A phylactery was a small box attached to the forehead or arm that contained Hebrew texts. These were also worn as a reminder to keep the law and be holy.  They also made these more visible to draw attention to themselves.  I used a funny example of a modern day phylactery by turning my iPhone to my Bible app and attaching it to my forehead with a head band (thankfully no pictures were taken).  I looked ridiculous.  Most trends end up looking ridiculous, and really look silly when we think about how we use trends to attract attention to ourselves.

So there are a couple of things we looked at in regard to this:
1)  Never Dress Inappropriately to Draw Attention to Yourself
-Don't dress in a way that it inappropriate to gain the attention of others.  If you feel that you can only gain someones attention this way then you do not want their attention to begin with.  I even think it goes beyond dressing inappropriately and includes when you are so enthralled in your appearance that vanity takes place.
2)  Don't Wear Christian Attire to Draw Attention to Yourself
-Just like the Pharisees wore tassels and phylacteries, we wear Christian t-shirts, bracelets, etc.  There is nothing wrong with wearing these t-shirts but we have to consider if we are trying to hide behind this identity while on the inside there is nothing spiritual going on.  Jesus further challenged the Pharisees in Matthew 23:27-28 talking about how they are like whitewashed tombs.  This Scripture not only applies to the Pharisees, but also to us.  We must be careful to not try to have the appearance on the outside of having everything together, but on the inside are spiritually dead.  

We each look in the mirror each day and may be disappointed in the appearance that we see.  However it is important to see our value in who God made us to be.  God looks at our heart just as he told Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7 when he was sent to find David.  We must not try to draw attention to ourselves by hiding behind our appearance.  We must also be careful to not try to hide behind the identity of having it all together, while being spiritually dead on the inside.

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