Ugly Rock Stars and Jesus

August 28th, 2013
flickr | jurvetson

“He had no form or charm to attract us, no beauty to win our hearts,” wrote the prophet Isaiah of the long-awaited Messiah.

My husband and I were talking about this very thing in regard to male rock bands!* I won't name names but simply consider a few past and present. If asked, “Is there anything in their appearance that would draw you to them if they were just another group of men you walked past on Main Street?” I'm guessing your answer in several cases would be “no” (perhaps you'd even be repelled by them!). Yet look at their fame, both women and men are drawn to them! People pay money to see them in concert, are mesmerized by their music, tune into interviews, listen to their opinions, and would love to meet them if the opportunity ever arose! Interesting isn't it?

It's also interesting that it happens to be the truth of all of us when we're in our element! I cannot help but think of Jesus here. Isaiah said he would be an ordinary-looking guy. The Gospels show that when this ordinary guy put down his carpentry tools and started upon the path he was made for, he became a magnet. When in his element, people were drawn to him. He inspired curiosity, love, and hate. He always provoked a response. Few could just regard him as an ordinary face in town. People climbed trees to get a glimpse of him, brought him expensive gifts, left everything to follow him and plotted his demise. Doing what he was called and gifted to do while on earth cost him, too. Isaiah goes onto say that people were repelled by this Messiah's suffering whom he called a Man of Sorrows. That is often the case (even for the beautiful and/or famous) for suffering isn't culturally attractive, is it? In being who he truly was made to be and do, Jesus' presence, including his suffering (especially his suffering) changed the world.

Consider your own life.

Who have you been drawn to, who in your life might you recognize as “being in their element”? Are there any school teachers, pastors, cooks, mechanics, musicians, nurses, scientists, writers, farmers, firefighters, family members, friends or others that come to mind? Now how many of these folks were you drawn to because of their physical appearance?

On the other hand, looking at people you've been repelled by, what provoked your repulsion? That can be a hard one because of our discomfort by those who have physical maladies or for us religious folk who have no problem believing we know the truth and those who disagree or do things differently from us don't. Perhaps there was a person or two in your life that, when in their true element, provoked your discomfort...maybe even your rage.

Whether or not we live up to our culture's standards of beauty and charm, you and I were made to be “rock stars” when in our element. Yes, our element will bring joy and quite possibly suffering (demonstrated by Jesus as well as some rock stars!) but it can change the world.

Let me close with a few extra reflection questions:

  1. What IS your element? If you're unsure ask a friend. Sometimes it's easier to recognize others' glory, where they shine, and harder to name our own.
  2. When have you noticed people being drawn to you? Word of warning: when you are in your true element they may also be repelled by you.
  3. How can you appreciate and encourage those you have observed or experienced in their element? Regardless of their appearance or how it may appear, how might you become one of their biggest fans?

*We spoke of men because we think women singers and bands have often had to uphold a nearly impossible image of calling and beauty to gain acclaim. Though it is hard to become a famous male musician, my guess is it's even harder for women. Culture and music industry standards say each woman must have “something in her appearance that people are drawn to her.” When it does happen, we can not help but cheer as evidenced in 2009 by Susan Boyle performing on Britain's Got Talent (watch the crowd). The diamond in the rough has been discovered against all cultural odds and her rightful element delightfully revealed.

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