"The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he said, “What shall I cry?”
'All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness
is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the Lord
blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.'”
As I read this verse when posting the the Scripture of the Day, it caught my attention. There was definitely something more to this than just a quick paste- it- up sort of thing, especially relating to Christian health and fitness. It absolutely does!
People tend to live in extremes. Either we tend to live one way or another. Christians are no exception. The world pulls us to look a certain way, that looking young is the "in" thing. So we fall for this focus on ourselves. The Church pulls us to look and act a certain way, to be" people of the Bible". There is a vein of our Christian culture that doesn't seem to be any different than the non-Christians sporting the latest trends and seeking the fountain of youth. After all, there are appearances to keep! Then there are those who are afraid of appearing ungodly, so looking and behaving as "Bible-nerds" that are a throwback to the 50's or 70's spouting Bible verses out is in. Veering away from anything that appears "worldly" to some Christian authority figure becomes all-important. Therefore we, as Christians, are to be a peculiar people, yet we certainly don't need to appear weird! What gives? We want to to fit in. The problem is that our perspective is warped.
Isaiah reminds Israel about having the right perspective in their captivity by Babylon. They lost their homeland and identities as God's chosen people because of the Babylonian rule and influence. Captivity was no fun since captors weren't very nice. Many of those in captivity were brought into Babylon's court, given Babylonian gods' names, and trained in the ways of Babylonian culture as seen in the book of Daniel. Israel had sinned multiple times so God warned them about this coming as a result. Now they were in the thick of it. They lost their perspective before and were living out the consequences.
Peter referenced this passage to early Christians in 1 Peter 1:25. Believers were caught up in the activities and trappings of the culture around them. Peter reminds them of the inheritance they have and that they are to rise above the behavior and attitudes they were picking up from those around them. These Christians were to focus on God's call to love each other with a pure heart. God's Word is practical for Christians' lives on all levels.
Warped we are! Sin has caused us to fight two different natures. We tend toward one or the other. Honestly, we aren't really any different than Israel in the Isaiah passage and the early Christians in the 1 Peter passage. In our case, we fall prey to our sin nature that has us concerned about appearances. Some of us tend to focus on being thin or super muscular, eating "diet" food, and becoming a regular gym go-er. We sport the latest UnderArmor workout clothing and the latest in athletic footwear. Slender Susie and Muscleman Mark dominate the gym scene and sport their appearance at church, too. But some of us become ultra-religious. We love being at the church every time the doors are open 1/2 hour early. Nerdy Nice Nancy and Geeky Bible Bob dress super-modest in clothing from a by-gone era, toting big Bibles in special cases because it's the "right thing to do". Going the gym to exercise and learn to eat right are good things as is going to church and reading our Bibles. When it is done for vain reasons, then it becomes a problem. It is important for us to regain our focus on what is important to God.
The truth is that appearances fade. Our lives are short. The people we try to impress are fickle. They will seek someone else's following when they grow tired of us. We are simple, fragile vessels. In one tragic moment, all that we have and are can be snuffed out. When all is said and done, the only thing left that we truly have is our relationship with God and those we love. We should live out the words we read from Scripture, living like reasonably normal people (not sinfully, though). We ought to take care of the body God gave us for the benefit of those around us. We are to be different because we reflect the love of Christ in our world. When we stand before His throne one day, may we have crowns to present to Him, the sort that never fades! May God bless you!