I have a beard. Not one of those neatly trimmed beards that’s the new fashion. I mean a, “I haven’t touched a razor in a few months” beard. Now, my wife loves it which is all that really matters, but I’ve noticed a little quiet disdain at my choice of facial hair. Some like the beard and have used the words “epic” and “biblical” to describe it. Other people I’ve know for years have politely hinted that I need to shave. It’s actually funny that people would take such a personal interest in someone else’s look, although it is a beard that really grabs attention.
I guess I just find it interesting how people you know want to make it their job to tell you you’re not doing something right. Although the situation I find myself in is not serious and I’m not going to get worried over the hang ups of others, Jesus faced a similar kind of criticism that for some, had eternal consequences.
Luke 2:52 reads, “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with with God and man.” This verse follows the time in the gospel account when Jesus was a young boy of about 12 who found himself left behind at the temple in Jerusalem. When his parents Joseph and Mary found him, Jesus returned home to Nazareth with them and continued to grow and learn. I’m fascinated by the idea that Jesus grew in favor with men. This implies that he would have been a likable young man, assumingly polite and kind to all those he met. The people in his hometown would have known Jesus well as the son of the carpenter Joseph. I can imagine their family being well-liked among the community and probably very hospitable with their neighbors.
A little later in life though, Jesus found out the favor he had with those in his hometown was waning a bit. In Mark 6:1-6, we see Jesus return to his home only to find those there taking offense at him for his ministry and miracles. Needless to say, Jesus was disappointed. Here were the very people who had favored him and what he was becoming. But they didn’t believe. They couldn’t come to grips with the idea that the son of a carpenter could be the Messiah.
We at times may face criticism from others who are close to us. They may openly accost us for our looks or beliefs or hide their disgust behind thinly veiled politeness. Just like Jesus, be willing to be you, to do the right thing even if it means standing alone. Finding a friend in Jesus may mean losing the friendships of others. But it’s not man we’re meant to impress. Life is best lived dwelling in the love and acceptance of our Lord Jesus.
Those in the church have the added responsibility of accepting people for who they are and showing them the love of God. Not just openly accepting sin but accepting those who are different or who may not have their whole life together. It shouldn’t matter what someone looks like or what sin they’ve had to struggle with or walk through. If they have given their life to God, they are a new creation and are being transformed into his likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18). Jesus calls us to love them the way he loves us.
And don’t worry. Having a Grizzly Adams beard won’t keep someone from worshipping God. It hasn’t stopped me yet