Sunday, March 27, 2011

On Being Attractive

 The following is from my new book Seeking Asylum In the Savior. It is available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other booksellers.

"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2).

            There must be glory in the ordinary. God has chosen some of the most common of his creation to hold hostage our attentions. Weeds for example. Why do they fascinate us so? They grow wild in the desert and we call them flowers. When they grow wild in our flower garden, we call them nuisances. A weed is merely a flower that wants to live. And so we arbitrarily select the weeds of our choice and fawn on them and grow them and trim them and cross-pollinate them so that we create varieties that practically take our breath away. The others we try to kill. That is what we have done with the ordinary weeds of creation.
            Surely it is a blessing of God that I have never been attracted physically or romantically to another male. Genetics didn't cross any of my wires nor did environment foist upon me an unnatural tendency to want to hold hands with fellows while on a date. Girls have always been a feast for my eyes. And so it was designed to be. Guys are to be attracted to gals, and vice versa. My beloved still lies to me on a daily basis to bolster my fragile ego. As I hold a picture of some male model in the face of my wife and ask, "Now, isn't he a good looking chap?" she barely glances at it and replies without skipping a beat, "He is absolutely not very attractive."
When I pursue the concept of attractiveness, this is when she really turns up the veracity monitor.
"Honey, I find you especially attractive. Your features are what I find irresistible in a man. You, my handsome darling, are all that a woman could possibly want in a sweetheart."
As my ears turn read with delight, I realize that my wife's vision perhaps has been impaired from her youth or that God somehow has made it possible for my beloved to find short, bald, and thick appealing attributes to be sought after and applauded.
Me: "Baby, do you think Tom Selleck is handsome?"
Her: "Absolutely not!"
Me: "What do you find attractive in a man?"
Her: "What did you say?"
Me: "Oh, forget it."
            When movie producers are looking for someone to play the hero or the knight in shining armor, whom do they seek out? Short, bald, compressed guys, right? When they were looking for some image to portray Superman in the movies, whom did they call? I noticed my agent didn't get a call. They got Christopher Reeves instead of Steve Goad because he was, uh, he was, er, hmm, short, bald, and swarthy. No, they got him because he was tall, dark, and handsome. Weeds are definitely not created equal.
When God chose a form in which to house my beloved Savior, on what did he decide? The incarnate Word of heaven would be housed in a Jewish baby. His maturation would find him nondescript. His nose would be like so many others and his complexion and hair color and eye color and height and manners would be so like the ordinary others of his day that he would almost be unrecognizable in a crowd without a betrayal kiss. If I had been casting that performance I might have chosen someone a bit more glamorous. Perhaps a Robert Redford or maybe a Brad Pitt. At least he would have been someone who could have carried the part with the flair of a Laurence Olivier or a Charlton Heston. Who would think the skin that housed the Savior of the planet would look like a blue-collar worker from Nazareth? An ordinary weed.
            I still have trouble thinking of my Lord with sawdust in his hair and calluses on his hands. Hollywood must have had the same problem as I. "Jesus must be a beautiful person. He must be as handsome as we can find. The Messiah of God has got to be able to play the part and look the part." So who does Hollywood chose to portray Jesus? Jeffrey Hunter. When one looks up the word handsome in the dictionary, surely he will find Mr. Hunter's likeness beside the word. Yeah! That's my kind of Jesus. Yet what was the persona and appearance of Christ our Lord? I hate to bring it up, but he wasn't even attractive. There was nothing in the least about him that hinted of royalty or majesty. He not only didn't look like a god, he didn't look like anyone special. But oh, how special he was.
            What does the word attractive mean to us today? A man leaves his wife and explains to the divorce lawyer that he no longer finds her attractive. What does that mean? Is she a different person than she once was? He is saying that attractiveness to him is like it is to Hollywood and to others who judge by mere appearances. Why is slim beautiful and stout merely stout? Why is bottled hair color better than natural? Why are painted toenails and tweezered eyebrows and glommed up skin and padded clothing and pierced ears/noses/lips/navels (I doubt my Savior thought much of body piercing, come to think of it) and razored legs and designer clothes so attractive while plain Jane isn't? Well, I have met a few Jane's and found them to be extremely attractive. For their beauty was not a matter of adornment or liposuction or skin peels. They were attractive because they glowed with the same countenance that our Lord possessed during his short life span walking the dusty footpaths of Galilee.
            When I first read C. S. Lewis I thought to myself, "Here is an attractive man of God. Here is a man in whose company I might enjoy myself." When I later saw a photograph of Clive Staples Lewis I was surprised to find him looking not at all the way I had imagined. He was, well, he was short and bald and thick. Just my kind of man. Show my wife a picture of Lewis and she says, "Now that is the sort of man I really find attractive." Thank you, Lord, for making one woman in particular blinded to the uncomliness of a man who more and more is looking like a combination of Alfred Hitchcock and Don Rickles.
            Jesus is my handsome Savior. He is the weed most sought after. Of all the people who lived this veil of tears, he is the one most attractive. His life and heart and mission and sacrifice are so attractive to some of us that we are delighted to mimic him in every way we possibly can. Our wardrobes need not be opulent. Our living quarters need not rival the Taj Mahal. Our diets may remain simple. Jesus is so attractive to some of us unattractive ones that Scripture tells us if he would be lifted up all such as we would be drawn to him. My Lord is John Wayne and Han Solo and Captain James T. Kirk and the Lone Ranger and Roy Rogers and Sargent York and Audie Murphy and Christopher Reeve and all other handsome heroes, real or imagined, wrapped into one individual. The carpenter's son. His human image may not have impressed those who saw him, but his beautiful life has changed the world forever. Hallelujah, what a Savior!
--Steven Clark Goad

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