But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy
Titus 3:4-5 ESV UK
Sometimes it seems like we live in a world that is obsessed with appearance. In 2017 the cosmetic industry’s market value in the UK exceeded a staggering 9.8 billion pounds. On smartphones there are now a variety of filters you can apply to your photos to make you look thinner and remove any blemishes. Even on Zoom there is a filter you can enable to ‘touch up your appearance’.
Whether it is to make a good first impression (or try to fix a bad first impression), we often find ourselves going to great lengths to make sure we look our best. Even Church is not exempt from this with believers often dressing in their Sunday best (sometimes I think the only reason I own a tie is for weddings, funerals and Church services!).
Today is when Christians celebrate Epiphany – which is a celebration of another kind of appearance. This ‘appearance’ (from the Greek word epephanē) is what the Scripture above is talking about as well – when God revealed himself to humanity in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. This appearance was not as people expected. It did not have the filters that people expected at the time. Jesus did not come flaunting his wealth and power as the Emperors and Kings of the time did. He did not come and demand that people bow down and worship him.
You see, Jesus appeared to remove our false impressions of God and reveal to us who he really is. He came to discard all the baggage of religious superstition and human speculation about God and to show the ‘goodness and loving kindness’ of the one true God. Even more than that, he wanted us to understand that we don’t need to pretend with God either. We can be ourselves and trust that his mercy is greater than our sins and blemishes.
Because of the appearance of Jesus Christ we have been given an everlasting hope and we can use Dione Warwick’s words (with a slight modification) to sing to him:
The moment I wake up
Before I put on my makeup
I say a little prayer [to] you
And while combing my hair now
And wondering what dress to wear now
I say a little prayer [to] you (1)
Heavenly Father, help us to remember the appearance that truly matters in our lives – the appearance of your Son Jesus Christ. Thank you that we do not need to hide from you, and that in Christ you have revealed yourself to us. May we sing your praises and speak of your glory every moment of every day. Amen.
Study by Gavin Henderson
About the writer: Gavin Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for GCI UK and Ireland
Local congregation: GCI Northampton Ecton Village Hall 78A High Street Ecton NORTHAMPTON NN6 0QB
Meeting time: Saturday 11am
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