The best a man can get
Posted by Paul and Tania Baker on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 | 5 comments | Bookmark:
There are many common questions associated with overseas’ mission, such as:
How are missionaries ‘called’?
Do missionary women always wear long skirts?
Is it essential for all missionary men to have a full beard?
I want to focus on the third question.
Most well known missionaries had/have a full untamed beard. Hudson Taylor, John Brew from Peru… the Apostle Paul probably had a beard. My neighbour/colleague/friend Rory Wilson has a most impressive beard which I am told he was born with and therefore had no choice but to go into overseas’ mission work.
For many missionaries, which is a term/title I struggle to associate with myself, the beard completes ‘the look’, along with Khaki trousers, an un-ironed shirt and sandals. For me, it’s a matter of cost and practicality. Mach3 blades are about £15 for a pack of 4 in Kampala which makes a daily shave financially unfeasible. I could opt for a cheaper brand but my sensitive skin would then require moisturising and male missionaries definitely do not moisturise.
Today, as I look at this pathetic beard in the mirror, wondering how professional beardists like Rory can handle the excruciating itch, I am looking forward to my Saturday morning shave.
Driving through Jinja recently (the Portrush of Uganda) we couldn’t miss the 20-foot bill board advertising one of the many churches which have blown in from America over the years. The picture was of Jesus wearing a spotless flowing robe, with 4 or 5 smiling children sitting around him. In the picture, Jesus was of course Caucasian with a beard and shoulder length brown wavy hair. It’s the textbook Jesus image.
I wonder what Jesus actually looked like. Being born and raised in a middle-eastern country I am fairly sure he was not white. Whether he had a beard or not I don’t know, but I guess he did. In Africa it is assumed that Jesus was a white man, mainly because of the bill boards and the bearded western visitors talking about him and trying to imitate him. We seem to have made Jesus in our image.
Of course we should be more interested in how Jesus acted than how he looked. His life and teachings were counter-cultural 2000 years ago and they definitely still are today. We are often too busy trying to look like a Christian by going to Church, saying the right things, not swearing etc. that we forget to follow Jesus’ example in how we live.
We should be continually challenged by the example Jesus gave us…with the central theme being how he loved people. Jesus taught that rather than any outward show of holiness, it is our inner lives (attitudes and motives) that really matter to God. Having an impressive beard does not make you a missionary any more than looking like a Christian makes you a follower of Jesus.
I suppose the biggest question is: ‘Are you saved?’ Not ‘are you shaved?’