We learn pretty early on that the more attractive you are, the more love you’ll get. Or at least the more attention you’ll get (and that can feel a close second to love sometimes, especially if love is in low supply).
So it’s pretty easy to get wrapped up in trying to look good. Wear these clothes, lose weight, build muscle, make your teeth whiter, make your hair smoother, smell better, and on it goes.
And this isn’t just limited to physical attributes, either. We try to look good by where we live, what we drive, where we go to school, what degrees we have, what we do for a living, how we talk, how we carry ourselves, whether we can make people laugh, how generous we are, and—at least in some circles—some version of how well we “live the Christian life.”
The word attractive is an interesting one, isn’t it? We use it to mean pretty, handsome, or appealing in some other way. But in essence, attractive means that something about you is kind of magnetic, pulling people to pay attention or come near to you.
If this is the case, then trying to be attractive can only be loving if you want people to come near for their sakes, not your own. And in our culture, that’s usually not the case.
Jesus was a different kind of attractive. Isaiah tells us He wasn’t outwardly magnetic. In contrast to most of the ways he’s depicted in film, people didn’t look at him and think, “Wow, that’s a good looking man!”
But people were attracted to Jesus. Why? Because he loved them well. Really well.
To be clear, not everyone knew this was why they were drawn to him. Some came just for a healing, or just to see a miracle. But Jesus never did anything to draw a crowd. He did what he did out of love for God and other people. That was it.
How might we live more like this day to day? In our workplaces? At the store? In our neighborhoods? In our churches?
Here are some practical ideas you might try:
- Consider someone you know who doesn’t fit our culture’s standard idea of beauty, but whom you find beautiful for his or her inner qualities. How do you feel about this person?
- Today when you notice yourself “attracted” to someone, ask Jesus to show you what He sees. (If you need to look away in order not to give into temptation to lust, do so.)
- Today when you notice someone you find “unattractive,” ask Jesus to show you what He sees.
- Practice this same prayer about yourself: “Jesus, when you look at me, what do You see?”
- Go a day without looking in the mirror. Each time you begin wondering how you look, turn your attention to how you can love and serve those around you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Is it ever good to try to be attractive? Is there a difference between true beauty and attractiveness? Leave a comment here.