Jesus had a beard.
I’m pretty sure he did. After all, nearly every Western portrayal of Jesus (movies, paintings, Family Guy episodes, etc.) depicts the Christ with a few common themes: dark, flowy hair; a loose robe that is probably white; and a beard. Actually, most historians agree on the latter, since it fit into the culture and practice of the Jewish people.
And so I, too, have decided to grow my beard. Taking the Nazirite vow, I am not allowing a razor to touch any part of my head or strong drink to enter my lips. Samson ain’t got nothin’ on me.
Okay, maybe not. Maybe it’s just for my own personal entertainment as I see people start in surprise with no small sense of satisfaction. It’s the little things.
At first there were jokes and laughter around the house as my beard began to thicken and curl. Then slowly my parents started to gently coax me to shave. Then they told me I was ugly. Last night I’m pretty sure I caught my mom trying to find the clippers in the middle of the night.
About a week ago, she asked me why I was growing the beard, to which I quipped, “Jesus had a beard, and I want to be like Jesus!” She smirked, went back to her vegetable chopping, and retorted (in Malayalam), “Be like Jesus in your heart, not in your beard.”
At first, it seems like a simple, logical statement. If you are a follower of Christ, of course you want to be like Jesus, and I don’t mean physically. But we often relegate this to doing things Jesus would have done, or doing things that would honor him. Not to knock that, actually doing something for the sake of Christ is crucial, but it arises out of being. Being like Christ means penetrating past me and letting Christ invade and change my heart. We can do “good” things for all sorts of reasons, many of which would be less-than-selfless. At the core remains the self-centered heart that still judges, mocks, and probably doesn’t look like Christ’s heart.
When we allow Christ to replace that heart, then we can truly begin to be like him. The things that break his heart will begin breaking ours, and what causes his to leap for joy will explode excitement in ours.
Imagine that…. We wouldn’t have to fake it. And those stirrings would hopefully produce actions. And maybe Christians would begin to look like Christ.
As Paul admitted in Philippians 3:12, not that I’m there yet, but I keep striving. I fight the part of me that refuses to submit to the authority of Christ.
And I’ll sport my Jesus beard while I do it.