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The Fence

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Beauty is a hard thing to talk about in the Christian culture. Have you noticed this? If you aren't talking about inner beauty or scenery beauty, you just don't talk about it. Physical beauty is a definite Yellow Caution Tape subject.

Which is why I'm having such a hard time talking about this.

There's a fine line between paying attention to how you look and obsessing about how you look. There's a fine line between ignoring how you look and disrespecting yourself.

And there's a definite fence right down the middle of the Inner Beauty and Outer Beauty camps in Christendom. I know people who are all about the inner beauty. "It's the only thing that matters," they'll say. "Outer beauty is worthless." And I know people who are all about physical beauty, so much so that there's nothing underneath the beautiful exterior.

I like to think of myself as straddling the fence.

I think inner beauty is extremely important. Recognizing who you are in Christ, recognizing that you are a creation crafted by God, realizing that you are a masterpiece sculpted by the Creator of the Universe. Your body is a temple of the Most Holy God.

Think about that. A temple. Of the Most Holy God.

If you need a dose of self-worth, if you need a shot of self-confidence, let this be it. God chose you as a home for his Holy Spirit. If you're ever tempted to look down on yourself, if you ever struggle with self-disrespect, remember Who lives in you. Who created you.

And Who you are ultimately disrespecting.

Jon is a complimenter. It's one of the things I love about him most! When we were dating, he would come over for dinner or whatever and he'd tell me I looked beautiful. "Oh please," I'd say. "Yeah right." And I did this over and over.

It wasn't until we got engaged that he told me how much it bothered him when I would say that. "You're calling me a liar," is what he told me. "You're telling me that I don't know what beauty looks like."

And he was right. Every time he called me beautiful and I brushed it off, I was saying he was a liar. And every time we look at our bodies and tell ourselves that we're not attractive, that we're worthless, we're doing the same thing to God. We're saying He didn't do a good job, He doesn't know what beauty looks like.

But there is a side to beauty that goes beyond the inside. I believe that when we fully understand that we are the temple of the living God, we will do our best to make that temple the best it can be. Whether that means eating right, not doing drugs, working out or wearing eyeliner, take what God has given you and use it.

There's the old adage about housecleaning that goes something like this: Would you clean your house if Jesus was coming for dinner? I think the response is well, duh, and the moral is to keep your house clean because Jesus is living in you. So why doesn't that apply to our appearance? Would you look nice for Christ?

Don't confuse me with discussing the "Come as you are" type of thing. I'm not saying that we should cover up who we are or all of us need to conform to the Jennifer Aniston look. I'm saying we should want to make this temple attractive. God lives in you! Rejoice in that! Celebrate that! Be the kind of woman who inspires others to a healthy lifestyle as well.

Don't disregard the outer appearance. Yes, you can be shallow by focusing on only the outer appearance. But I think we're doing a great dis-service to ourselves if we only focus on the inner beauty. Let the individual beauty God has given you shine out.

I want to keep talking about this, but I want to get your thoughts. What do you think about the outer appearance? How should a Christian treat their body?

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