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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

#72 Comfortable Clothing

Here I am bucking the trend and dressing
down at a writer's conference in Kansas City
Continuing with the 100 life-enriching little nuances series …

Ties are for funerals. Dress clothes are for weddings and work days in which I will either be meeting clients or presenting to them. And every other occasion is made for comfortable clothing.

That is my philosophy.

I dress down one or two levels from the norm. Many men wear suits to church. I wear jeans during the cool months and shorts during the summer – exceptions occur, especially when I’m behind on laundry. When I’m invited to speak at writer’s conferences or seminars, I politely tell coordinators that I’ll be there in a polo shirt and dress pants. Most sports journalists wear dress pants or jeans to cover sporting events in the summer. I wear shorts.

Five years ago, I attended a speaking seminar in which all of us gave five minute presentations within our group on the last day. Staying true to my clothing philosophy, I wore dress pants and a polo short. We critiqued each other, anonymously, judging delivery, content and appearance. I received relatively good marks on delivery and content, but not so much on appearance. One person suggested I would look better when presenting if I were to wear a loose fitting suit. Others at least wanted to see a dress shirt and tie. I appreciated their honesty, even if I didn’t agree with their opinions.

For me, it’s not about looking better. I’m fighting a losing battle there anyway. Instead, it’s about feeling comfortable physically, so I can be at my best. When I’m speaking to a group or to an individual, my goal is to get to past the externals so I can get to the matters of the heart. I’m a co-struggler who simply wants to learn and to teach.  

This past Sunday, my pastor read Isaiah 53:1-3 and he asked us to take in the verses anew, especially in relation to the appearance of the Messiah. Here is what those verses say:

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
    And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
     and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Jesus would have no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He would be one from whom men would hide their faces.

Bible commentator Matthew Henry points out that, “Those who saw him could not see that there was any beauty in him that they should desire him ...”

In context, there doesn’t seem to be any hint that people hid their faces in reverence for the Messiah. Instead, the verses say he was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.

Maybe the weight of our sins and his coming rejection reflected in Jesus’ countenance. And maybe God, in his eternal wisdom, had no desire to adorn the gospel with a picturesque Messiah because he wanted to draw people with truth, not physical beauty.

If that is true, then outward appearance would seem to be a secondary matter.


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