In The Beginning – The “How” Of It All

I have written a few posts describing what I believe a Christian is or should be. I guess I should have started with the topic of how a person becomes a Christian in the first place.

The first step can be difficult – recognizing and admitting that we are sinners and that we need to be forgiven and saved. But after that, and contrary to popular opinion, it is actually quite easy to become a Christian. I am not talking about some of the spiritual “hoops” that some would tell you that you have to jump through first. You don’t have to attend church or sign a membership card. You don’t need to be dunked in a tank of water. You don’t need to eat a special wafer or drink special wine. You don’t have to pray for so many hours a day. You don’t have to wear certain clothes or look a certain way. You don’t have to give up drinking alcohol, eating pork, playing cards, going to the movies or dancing. The only prerequisite that God requires of you is that you have a sincere, meek, and penitent heart that desires to seek out God and have a relationship with Him.

Php 1:9, 10 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in full knowledge and in all perception; … that you may be sincere and without offense until the day of Jesus Christ,

Jas 1:21 Therefore putting aside all filthiness and overflowing of evil, receive in meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

When you get to that place in your heart, the next step to becoming a Christian is “saying” and “believing”.

Rom 10:9 Because if you confess the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses unto salvation.

The word “confess” means to acknowledge. You admit that you are a sinner who needed a saviour and that Saviour is Jesus Christ. (You don’t need anybody else around to verbally confess either – you could be alone on a desert island and God would hear you and accept your confession). Then you acknowledge that Jesus paid the price for your sins and He died in your place.

Then in your heart you believe that God resurrected Christ from the dead and that Jesus is now sitting at the right hand of God interceding for you.

Rom 8:34 … It is Christ who has died, but rather also who is raised, who is also at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

To become a Christian 1) admit that you are a sinner and acknowledge that Jesus died for your sins 2) believe that God raised Jesus from the dead (which is also our hope of glory for us).

And as Porky the Pig said, “Th-th-th-that’s all folks”!

Simple eh?

Blessings

Hair

“Gimme head with hair Long beautiful hair Shining, gleaming, Steaming, flaxen, waxen Give me down to there hair Shoulder length or longer Here baby, there mama Everywhere daddy daddy Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair Flow it, show it Long as God can grow it My hair” (from the musical Hair)

In my last two posts, “Keeping Up Appearances” and “Will the Real Christian Please Stand Up” I wrote about my understanding of the issue of what makes a real Christian. Today, I am going to write about the issue of hair (on the head, that is) and the “lengths” that people go to in order to preserve an image of Christianity.

As a Christian woman, the issue of hair has been another puzzle for me. I truly desire to be the woman of God that He wants me to be so I have often wondered if that meant that I should to grow my hair long. The Bible does contain scripture which discusses that very issue.

1Co 11:15 But if a woman should have long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her in place of a veil.

As I have said before, when reading the Bible, one must take into account the context of the scripture verse or verses, the audience to whom it was written, the history, society and culture of the time in which the scripture was written.

The Corinthian church was having some difficulties in a few areas and Paul wrote to them with answers and instructions. It seems that one of the issues was improper and disruptive behavior of some of the women in the church. Below is an excellent excerpt from the website gotquestions.org

“The Corinthian church was in the middle of a controversy about the roles of men and women and the proper order of authority within the church. In the Corinthian society, women showed submission to their husbands by wearing a veil. It seems that some of the women in the church were discarding their veils, something that only pagan temple prostitutes or other rebellious women would do. For a woman to come to church without her veil would be dishonoring to her husband, as well as culturally confusing. By the same token, for a man to wear a veil or to somehow have his head covered during worship was not culturally acceptable in Corinth.

Our culture today does not use veils or head coverings to indicate submission to authority. The roles of men and women have not changed, but the way we symbolize those roles changes with the culture. Rather than establish legalistic standards of hair length, we must remember that the real issue is our heart condition, our individual response to the authority of God, His ordained order, and our choice to walk in submission to that authority. Men and women have different, God-ordained roles, and part of that difference is shown by their hair. A man’s hair should look masculine. A woman’s hair should look feminine.”

Besides the issue of the cultural aspect of wives showing submission to their husbands, there was also the issue of appearances. As mentioned above, at that time in Corinth, a woman who walked around with an uncovered head, or cut her hair, could be mistaken for a pagan temple prostitute (who were also the ones who wore wigs and cosmetics etc.) Another problem was being misidentified as a woman who worshiped the pagan god Dionysus or Bacchus.

The following excerpt from http://godwords.org is an excellent explanation of the subject:

“Paul’s instructions had nothing to do with cutting your hair, and everything to do with living in Corinth. Corinth was a city where many pagan gods were worshipped, including Dionysus. One of the names used in ancient Macedonia (Greece) for Dionysus was “Pseudanor”. It means “false man”, as in “effeminate man”. He was pictured in art from that time as a beardless, sensuous, naked or half-naked androgynous youth. Literature described him as womanly or “man-womanish”. Because of this, worshippers of Dionysus would often engage in cross-dressing, where men would grow their hair and wear women’s clothing…and women would cut their hair and dress in men’s clothing. These women were known, for hundreds of years prior to Paul’s letter, as “imitators of men”.

That is why women having short hair was a big deal in Corinth: everybody would assume that they worshipped Dionysus instead of worshipping Jesus Christ.”

I have tried wearing long hair in the past. My hair is very straight, thick and heavy at the back. I can’t stand hair hanging in my face so I have to wear it back and/or up. Unfortunately, I have a very tender scalp and barrettes, combs and ponytails cause me a lot of discomfort. I also can not lift my arms above my head for very long or hold onto a hair dryer for any length of time. Having long hair is a real burden for me and I don’t think that God wants me to worry about living with that burden. I have decided that God is concerned about my comfort and well-being and since I am free in Christ, I choose to wear my hair short (and colour it to hide those nasty grey hairs!).

As I have written in my previous blogs, I believe that being a Christian is an inward heart thing and not an outward appearance thing. I wear my hair short unto the lord and my heart does not condemn me.

I do have dear sisters-in-Christ who believe in wearing their hair long – they do so from their heart as unto the Lord and their heart does not condemn them either. I honour their choice of dress and hair length, as I hope they do mine.

Whether you wear bright or sombre colours, pants or skirts, bling or plain, make-up or bare-face, short or long hair, hats or hair blowing in the breeze, the one thing that is most important to God is the state of your spiritual heart.

Luk 10:27 And answering, he said, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.

Keeping Up Appearances

“For the apparel oft proclaims the man,…” Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

“Clothes make the man.” Mark Twain

Question: Do clothes and appearances make the Christian?

I am a person who enjoys fashion and clothes (and at my age, you want me to be wearing clothes!) and I have worked at a variety of fashion retail stores. But at times, my love of fashion and clothing has seemed to be at odds with what some Christians have been teaching and hold to be true, especially for Christian women.

I am an earnest Christian woman who sincerely desires to please God and bring honour to Him by the way that I live my life, so I have done a lot of searching and thinking about this issue.

Is a true Christian defined by what they wear and how they look? Should a person’s appearance be the standard by which we judge whether or not they are a Christian?

If I desire to be a Christian woman, do I have to have long hair, cover my head, wear long skirts, and be free from any “bling” and “smoke and mirrors” (my husband’s term for makeup)? Are only certain colours and styles of clothing acceptable to God?

In my previous post “Will the real Christian please stand up”  I wrote about my thoughts on what I believe defines a “Christian”. I can’t find any scriptures which support the idea that a person is a true Christian based upon their choice of wardrobe. Being a Christian is a matter of “heart” not dress. God himself said that He does not judge man by outward appearance but by the state of the inner heart.

1Sa 16:7 But Jehovah said to Samuel, Do not look on his face, nor on his height, because I have refused him. For He does not see as man sees. For man looks on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looks on the heart.

Yes, there are scriptures which discuss the desired or preferred way for Godly women to dress – but – the reader must understand the time, culture and audience for whom these instructions were given.

1Pe 3:1-5 Wives, be ruled by your husbands; so that even if some of them give no attention to the word, their hearts may be changed by the behaviour of their wives, when they see your holy behaviour in the fear of God. Do not let your ornaments be those of the body such as dressing of the hair, or putting on of jewels of gold or fair clothing; But let them be those of the unseen man of the heart, the ever-shining ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great price in the eyes of God. And these were the ornaments of the holy women of the past, whose hope was in God, being ruled by their husbands:.. (BBE)

1Ti 2:9, 10 In the same way also, I desire that women adorn themselves in decent clothing, with modesty and sensibleness, not adorned with braiding, or gold, or pearls, or costly clothing, but with good works, which becomes women professing godliness.

I don’t believe that the above scriptures are saying that women shouldn’t dress nicely or attractively for their husbands. I believe that the lesson is that our loving, gentle, and kind hearts should be what gives us true beauty in the eyes of God and man. We should be more concerned about inner beauty than exterior beauty. We should not put our confidence and self-value in artificial and superficial methods such as jewelry and cosmetics. However, I don’t believe that it is wrong for me to wear a little jewelry or make-up either. I mean, what hubby wants their wife walking around with a “sack-cloth and ashes” attitude?

I have tried the “plain Jane” approach but I looked and felt miserable. For myself, I like fun, sporty clothes in bright colours. It is part of my personality – of who God made me to be. I try to dress decently, sensibly and with my interpretation of modesty. While some of my clothes do have some ‘sparkle’ they are not adorned with gold or pearls or made from costly fabrics. When I look around at all the incredibly beautiful things that God has created – birds, butterflies, flowers, dew drops, rainbows and sunsets etc., I don’t believe that God is offended by a bit of colour and sparkle. ( https://heartshabitation.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/true-colours/)

A person can affect “holiness” by dressing in dark-colours, long sleeved shirts, long skirts and hats but still have an unsaved heart inside. A plain binding does not make a pornographic book any cleaner.

Jesus warned about being like the Pharisees who were more concerned with, and took pride in, their “holy” outward appearances.

Mat 23:1-5 Then Jesus spoke to the crowd and to His disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, observe and do. But do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy and hard-to-carry burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders. But they will not move them with one of their fingers. But they do all their works in order to be seen of men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.

Mat 23:27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outside, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

Jesus also warned us to be careful about people who may look good on the outside but who are evil inside.

Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Paul tells us that we are not to boast in our appearance – we should not have confidence that it is our clothing and appearance which makes us holier than someone else.

2Co 5:12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but are giving you occasion to glory on our behalf, so that you may have it to answer those boasting in appearance, and not in heart.

2Co 10:7 Is it outward appearances you look to? 

We are plainly told that we are not to judge others by what we see.

Joh 7:24 Do not judge according to sight, but judge righteous judgment.

One of the important things that Jesus died for was to give freedom to those who believe in him.

Joh 8:36 Therefore if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. 

But we are not to use that freedom as an excuse for sinful living or to do whatever we feel like.

1Pe 2:15,16 For such is the will of God, doing good to silence the ignorance of foolish men; as free, and not having freedom as a cover of evil, but as servants of God.

Therefore, even though I believe that I have been made free from trying to obtain righteousness by the way I dress, I still believe that we should dress in a manner which is pleasing and honouring to God.

1Th 5:22 Abstain from every appearance of evil.

It is very important that I, as a Christian woman, don’t dress in such a way as to lead another person, especially a man (although highly unlikely at my age – LOL) into temptation or sin. And if I know that the way I dress may cause offence to someone who believes that we should be dressing a certain way, in the love of God, I would do my best to dress so as not to cause them offence.

Rom 14:13 Then let us not judge one another any more, but rather judge this, not to put a stumbling-block or an offense toward his brother.

I have some very dear sisters-in-Christ who feel that one of the ways that they can obey and honour God is to dress very modestly in long skirts etc. When we are all together, I think we focus on each other’s heart for God rather than our clothing.

I believe that whatever you do (or wear), if you have sought out God about the matter and have received peace over the situation, then that is what is right for you.

1Co 10:31 Therefore whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1Jn 3:21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have perfect confidence towards God;

All of this to say “no – I don’t think that clothes and appearance make the Christian”. We are not saved, sanctified, made righteous and holy by what we wear or how we look. BUT – how we choose to look may reflect our personal relationship with God.

Blessings