Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Colour | Style

While I was out at blah, Jo was out at the launch party for two friends of ours who have established a colour and style consultancy. Here are some thoughts expressing why I think this is a wonderful example of incarnational Christian living; and not ‘too incarnational,’ in the sense of ‘indistinguishable from those around us who do not know God; no longer salt and light.’

When God created us, he paid attention to detail, choosing skin tone and eye and hair colour and body shape for each one of us, generating unique combinations from a set number of variables. When, in how we clothe our bodies, we make use of colours and styles that complement our God-given physical nature, a created being gives honour to its Creator. (And, conversely, when we fail to recognise our physical created-ness, we dishonour our Creator.)

When Jesus tells his disciples not to worry about what they will wear, as those who do not know God do, his point is not that what we wear is not important, but that God knows that it is important and he will provide for us.

When Paul writes concerning what women should or should not wear, it seems to me, his points are that Christian women should not dress in ways that would suggest, within the indicators of their culture, that they were prostitutes; or locate their sense of beauty in externals; and not that they should pay no attention to how they dress. (The same principles apply to men.)

What we wear speaks volumes about how we feel about ourselves. When we dress in such a way as to indicate that we do not believe that we are worthy to be anything other than slaves in our Father’s household, I believe this grieves the prodigal Father, who runs out to meet us coming to him with that attitude, and – disregarding it – places a fine robe around our shoulders.

Hudson Taylor encouraged his missionaries to dress as the Chinese, rather than in western clothes, so that how they presented themselves should not be a stumbling block to the gospel. Such an attitude was revolutionary within overseas mission in his day; and waits to be revolutionary in mission on our own doorstep today. When we present ourselves well, we are, quite simply, more approachable.

Specifically concerning our friends’ business, even in the setting-up of it, it has opened doors to lots of relationships, spiralling out from the school playground; and given rise to conversations about self-image, with opportunity to speak of how God sees us, as his beloved children.

This is not ‘Prosperity Gospel’: it is perfectly possible to dress well on a budget, even a tight budget, and with a limited wardrobe (and perfectly possible to run up massive credit card debt on ill-informed choices and look terrible as a result).

This is not ‘buying into’ worldly constructs concerning image, which hold people in bondage to the almighty Market. Rather, it is prophetically speaking freedom to those held captive by such concerns; and restoring the Creator’s rightful place, usurped by the Market.

It is true that at the point where you are first learning which colours/styles complement how God has created you the process can seem to take up a disproportionate and even inappropriate amount of time and focus. But that is true of learning anything. We don’t think that the time and focus needed to learn to drive is inappropriate, taking our thoughts away from God, or witnessing to others (indeed, we may even think in terms of the opportunities for the gospel that might open up through being able to drive, if we are so inclined). Once we are confident, we become unconsciously competent.

I pray that my friends’ venture will flourish, as a tree of healing whose roots go down to a spring of life.

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