A study at Harvard, reported in Forbes Magazine, noted that attractive people have an advantage in both finding a job and advancing in their careers. Does that surprise you?
Workers of are pretty or handsome earn more than workers of below-average beauty. You tend to see taller, handsome men as CEOs of major corporations and winning presidential candidates.
In general, we like pretty and handsome people—it’s a bias that exists, like it or not, within our minds. Good looking people could get more opportunities, we give them more resources, and so they’re going to be more successful. Those of us that don’t have the “movie star” appeal have to work harder and settle for less.
For whatever reason, we tend to believe that good looking people have more skills, in addition to their looks, that make them smarter and more capable. And they do have a certain aura around them. This physical appeal leads to favorable career outcomes, more invitations to parties, etc.
Over the past four decades I have seen beautiful staff come and go at our camp. We hired a young lady to help us with our annual capital drive—she was formally a model and quite dazzling. I recall that when people saw here they would often become silent for a few seconds—dazzled by her beauty. She helped us raise more money in one year than anyone else ever did. One summer we hired a junior staff from France, but he arrived late and when entered into our dining hall after the meal had begun. He also was quite handsome, and when he walked into the dining halls all the heads of the female campers and staff turned to him and gasped for air. He literally took their breath away. Younger and older campers flocked to the classes he taught.
We’re attracted to beauty—no doubt about it. It’s the way He has hired us. A some people are incredibly attractive—and unless they’re real jerks (and a lot of pretty people are) we tend to like them and want to be around them.
The Bible talks about beauty and points out that King Saul and King David were exceptionally handsome men. Sarah, the wife of Abraham, was one of the most beautiful women, even when she was quite old, to ever live. Angels are always described as being dazzling and awesome young men, in their appearance. God made those things we find beautiful.
So why, oh why, this passage I am about to read from the book of Isaiah. It’s a chapter about the coming Messiah—the Son of God. God Almighty sends His one and only to the world, and He could have given him the most gorgeous body imaginable. He could have been the most handsome man to ever walk the face of the earth. He could have been so handsome that people would be drawn to His beauty, first, and then hung around to hear the good news. But that’s not the way it worked. Nowhere in the Bible are Jesus’ physical appearance described except here, in Isaiah, and I whereas I think it refers to Jesus on His way to the cross, Isaiah wrote these words to describe the Messiah.
“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem."
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied, by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53, NIV
Do you realize how bloodied, bruised, disfigured and ugly He must have looked after the beating, flogging, and tortures He endured? We cringe from the idea of not looking our best or being cleaned up and proper. And I am certainly not suggesting that we start going to church slovenly or to our work like we were Senator John Fetterman. God expects us to show respect, take care of our bodies, and so on. But the Christian’s goal is not to draw attention to himself or herself, but rather to God’s battered—and now resurrected Son.
Are you willing to become the young man or woman, or the adult, God calls and the world desperately needs? Jesus obeyed the call—and so did the prophets before Him. Listening to God and obeying is going to involve a bumpy ride from time to time. Most of us are not quite prepared for all the bumps and bruises that must come if we are going to be turned into the man or woman God envisions us to be. Are you willing to be battered into the shape of the servant to be used by God? The battering and beatings will always come in the most common, everyday ways and through common, everyday people.
Jesus listened to God and is now exalted. He could have chosen otherwise, but He submitted to His Father. If you wish to go to heaven, merely believe and profess that Jesus is Lord. But if you hope to be of use to God, while you wait for Him to call you home to glory, He must dominate and you must subjugate. “Isn’t it humbling, and at the same time reassuring, to realize that God not only knows where we live, but He also knows the gutters into which we sometimes crawl when we want to avoid Him! But He loves us, and He will hunt us down as fast as a flash of lightning. No human being knows human beings as God does.” (Oswald Chambers) God wants for you and me to be more than mere trophies, waiting for the day of salvation. He’s calling us to live for far more than this.
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” We don’t need a beautiful building, or perfectly adorned people for the gospel to be shared. Sometimes a manger, a smelly fishing village, or a place among tombs is more effective for God to perform His miraculous work.
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.”
Just because people don’t like you, or ignore you, or speak bad of you, doesn’t mean that He is not quite proud of you. Be faithful and don’t let the meanness of others deter you in your work for the Lord.
“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.” There will be times when people think that you are suffering because God is punishing you—and perhaps He is. But maybe your suffering is intended to reveal how much like the Son of God—the Messiah—you are. Perhaps, just maybe, your suffering has a supernatural purpose that only God and you understand.
“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” I suppose that nothing reveals the maturity and single-minded devotion to God, and the assurance that God is in total control, as much as a man’s ability to keep His mouth shut when other men whine, moan and complain about how unfair life is.
“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death….” And that’s what God does for those He loves. Yes, He permits suffering and apparent abandonment at times, but when God has His hand upon, and has called to do something that leads others to sneer at you or mock you, take heart! If you are nonetheless faithful—in spite of the rejection of others—you’re counted among the great—one of those, “of whom the world is not worthy”.
I wonder if there is someone hearing this message right now, or reading it on-line or from one of the printed sermons, that feels like His hand is upon them, but you feel that every other hand is against you. Being of incredible use to God does not require that you are pretty, handsome, smart, rich, young, old, or man or a woman. It’s the world that has given us the lie about outward appearances—God looks at the heart. He merely wants you to say, within your heart, “I am ready—mold me, shake me, break me and make me into the man or woman you want me to be. Have your own in my life Lord.”