Cosmetics and the "Kids"

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Do we detect a little bit of “something” in the Lord’s voice as He looks at a multitude who refused to be satisfied? The Lord likens them to children: “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn’” (Matthew 11:16, 17).

Do it our way, they say. The problem was (one that Jesus recognized easily) that these “children” would not be satisfied, would not respond to the message of reconciliation, no matter what the “packaging” looked like. Cosmetics wouldn’t cut it. Band-aids wouldn’t cover the wound.

Jesus’ statement came on the heels of answering a question sent to Him by John the Baptist, who was then in prison. John was a rare character. He had appeared out of the desert. He wore strange clothes, ate weird food, and was in attack mode from the get-go. He was not “politically correct.” But he was doing what God had ordained him to do and Jesus commended him for it (11:11). People listened; some responded. But most rejected the message. Was it because of the man? The cosmetics?

Then came Jesus. He looked and acted more like the “normal” people. But would the message be received any more readily because the cosmetics were more acceptable?

Jesus knew better. He knew that the cosmetics weren’t what attracted or detracted. It was the message that these “children” rejected no matter what it was wrapped in.

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners’” (11:18, 19).

A seminary professor of mine, commenting on women wearing make-up, said: “If the barn needs painting; paint it!” There is nothing wrong with cosmetics until, and unless, they become the focus of what we do in ministry rather than secondary to the Word of God, to prayer, to witness. Sadly, the emphasis in the modern church is more on the “paint and powder” than it is on the power of God which results in salvation.

The “children” will make demands. But no matter what we do, or don’t do, they will not be satisfied by the externals. As Paul wrote to Timothy: “Preach the word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). Sadly this advice is followed by the warning that even those who listen to truth will turn away and look for something that is a little more “user friendly.” Nevertheless, Paul tells his young protégé to “...keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (4:5).

In other words, stick with delivering the message and don’t fall into the trap of thinking that cosmetics will outdo conviction.

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