Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Beautiful People

Beautiful people have it rough.

Oh, I know what you are thinking. The beautiful, the rich, the famous, they have it better than anyone else. People cater to them naturally. They always seem to get the privileges all of us ordinary people never get.

The pretty girls were the most popular in school. Even when they were lacking in personality or brains, they always seemed to have no trouble getting a date. One of my son’s closest friends in high school was a golden boy. He treated girls like trash and avoided his responsibilities. He literally got by on his charm and good looks, never seeming to suffer consequences from his actions. One smile from him could melt the staunchest of hearts.

Could there really be a disadvantage to being beautiful?

God likened His nation Israel to a beautiful woman in Ezekiel 16. He had done everything to demonstrate his love for her. He entered a covenant relationship with her so that she would be solely His. His acts of love demonstrated his commitment: he bathed her, clothed her, adorned her with ornaments and a beautiful crown on her head. “So you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you,” declares the Lord.” (Ezekiel 16:13-14)

You would think that after all of that tender, loving care and attention, Israel would be devoted to her God. But instead, she took the gifts He bestowed on her and went off on her own. “But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame.” (Ezekiel 16:15) Israel had trusted in her own beauty and prosperity. She forgot the One who gave her what she had.

The disadvantage to being beautiful or prosperous is that sometimes you can lose sight of reality. Hundreds of years before Ezekiel wrote his prophecy, the Israelites stood poised to enter the Promised Land. Moses had one last meeting with them before he died, which is recorded as the book of Deuteronomy. For a final time, he reiterated the covenant which God had laid out for the nation upon leaving Egypt. Now forty years later, Moses reminded them of what God had done for them. God was about to bless them beyond their wildest dreams. But the blessing came with a warning: “Beware that you do not forget the Lord . . . otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses. . . and your herds and your flocks multiply . . . then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14)

My professor today recounted the difficulty in sharing the gospel message with his classmates at Princeton. These students were the brightest and the best. They were self-sufficient. They had no need for a savior. They had their brains. He contrasted that response to the response he received in a prison ministry. While working with those who lived behind bars, he found them extraordinarily receptive to the gospel. They had a sin problem and they knew it.

Jesus said it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to be saved. The problem was not in the money. It was in the self-sufficiency of “having it together.”

We live in a nation which is self-sufficient and powerful. And a result of that has unfortunately been a general turning away from the Lord. On the morning of 9/11, we suddenly became very aware of God. The attack shook us to our core. We were not so impenetrable as we thought, and seeing our vulnerability scared us. Churches were filled to capacity on the Sunday following the attacks. We are driven to God by need.

So the beautiful, the wealthy, the famous, and the intelligent all have it rough. They are missing the opportunity to know the reality of their neediness. Be thankful for the ways you feel you fall short of the mark. They are what God has put into your life to help you avoid self-sufficiency.

1 comment:

Christie Todd said...

Thank you so much for your input on fear. I really appreciate it!
Christie Todd