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Accessorizing the Life

The headline caught my eye. “Accessorize thug-style, thanks to the state.” The story covered the ostentatious dress of high rollers in the dope business. “In the world of gangster jewelry, nothing says ‘bling’ quite like a diamond-studded crucifix, a golden pit bull, or a jewel-encrusted gorilla…Seized from drug dealers, some items appraised at more than $35,000 apiece, this collection of ill-gotten trinkets goes up for bid on Thursday—everyone welcome.”[1]

Sometime known as accoutrements, accessorizing refers to outward forms of recognition or trappings, like cathedral ceilings, heated swimming pools, and other symbols of wealth. Usually, accessorizing refers to adding coordinating items to a main wardrobe. Scarves, shoes, hats, gloves, purses, jewelry, even eyeglasses that go with an outfit are considered required dress for a cultured socialite. And, not just any accessories, thank you very much. As one ascends the social ladder, accessorizing translates into big bucks. Armani, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Rolex, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and more are household names for climbers.

Don’t want to impress the elite crowd? No problem. You can accessorize the gang lifestyle by saggin’, super baggy pants ten inches too long and so big at the waist that the belt has to be cinched every thirty seconds. Add to that oversize baseball caps, big coats with team logos emblazoned on them, bandanas representing the color of the gang, chains, piercings, tattoos and $300 sneakers.

Goths accessorize. They color their hair black, paint their nails black, wear black boots (essential), pencil in black eye shadow, at least one silver ring for each finger, all black clothes (pants, shirt, jumper, jacket), black greatcoat, net gloves, and red tie with red nail polish. Preppy people wear classic and conservative clothing and accessories like button-down Oxford cloth shirts, argyle sweaters, cuffed chinos, and cordovan loafers. (Google all this stuff out online and you too can be a fashion expert like me.)

The sky’s the limit. You already know that you can accessorize your home (including each special purpose room in the house), but did you know you can accessorize your garden, your car, your bicycle, your individual sport (tennis, golf, skiing, etc.), your website, your cellular phone, your pager, your laptop, your handgun, your day planner, your child, your baby, your child’s baby (doll), your toiletries, your dog, your iPod Video, your contact lenses, your wedding, your deck, your camera, your healthcare résumé, your city (city?) and, of all things, your accessories?

The dirty little secret is that you can accessorize yourself right into an identity, just as surely as if a gangster tattooed his profession across his forehead. Truth at street level is still “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.” When one begins to add the trinkets and toppings of a certain lifestyle, it becomes a dead giveaway that he or she wants to identify with that lifestyle, whether it is gangster, preppy or Goth. More than mere fun or meaningless symbols, people take accessories seriously. Many schools now ban gang colors and some clothing because they ignite fights between rival gang members. The accessories one wears speaks—or screams out—lifestyle values.

For the most part, the Christian world long ago abandoned its signature accessories, proclaiming the “man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” This departure from a scripturally defined holy appearance has caused many unintended consequences. It said that no one really knows what a Christian should look like. It invalidated Bible descriptions of holiness. It validated subtle questioning of and even wholesale rebellion against modest, subdued dress. It brought about confusion and strife among followers of Christ. It created a huge vacuum into which a plethora of worldly accessories flowed. It held those people up as a laughing stock who wanted to retain Bible holiness. Finally, it facilitated a tectonic shift of basic Christianity toward general worldliness.

Two things. One, man still looks on the outward appearance. Two, none of us are God who can discern the heart. The verse in question does not purport to wipe out proper appearances that define one’s status. The human need for identifying earmarks of righteousness continues to exist. In my discussion in an earlier article entitled Body Language, I raised this question: “In the church, when a man says, ‘I am living a holy life,’ and then gets drunk, philanders, and steals from his employer, his body language clearly contradicts his verbal messages. If a woman avows that she is pure and chaste, and then dresses like a prostitute and is frequently seen with different men, [in compromising situations], at all hours of the night, what are we to conclude but that her claims are bogus?”

I have observed, over the years, that when a believer’s ardor towards God begins to cool, telltale accessories of carnality start showing up. At first, subtle, barely perceptible signs appear. They are generally justified by these statements. “What? This little thing? Don’t be silly. There’s nothing wrong with this.” Or, “just because I’m wearing this, you’re ready to throw me under the bus. What kind of Christian are you?” Or, “I get so tired of you holier-than-thou people judging me!” Then, the road to full-blown rebellion is wide open. If I wear the colors, I tout the lifestyle. The Bible could not speak with greater clarity here: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” [2]

First, the Bible teaches us to be born again in which we adopt a radically new identity. Second, it further defines a set of behaviors and guidelines for living as an outflow of our regenerated life. The foundational verse for this is Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 2 Lest we think we can define this any way we wish, the scriptures continue to provide guidelines for the way we should behave and dress. For example, consider Galatians 5:19-21: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” [4] Also, 1 Timothy 2:8-11: “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” [5] The Apostle Peter further defines this teaching: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4. [6]

This sampling of scriptures about accessorizing the Christian lifestyle lets us know the general standing of Bible teaching. These are not silly, irrelevant throwbacks to an era of unsophisticated Christianity. They are solid, timeless principles which govern the attitudes and tenor of believers. More importantly, they are the inspired and changeless Word of God! Many more topics may be found throughout the New Testament, with underlying anchors from the Old Testament. We would do well to refresh our memories—and our hearts—with these Bible truths.

Some may protest that one can wear the accessories of the Christian fraudulently. However true that statement may be, it gives no standing to those who violate proper Bible teachings. Yes, counterfeit money is in circulation. That hardly means that we should discredit all money as suspect. Let us do what we can and should do. Let God judge the hearts.

In my view as a Pentecostal pastor and as one in organizational leadership, perhaps the most formidable foe of holiness living today is the spirit of worldliness. Today, it is more pervasive, more innovative, more institutionalized than ever before. The true church must not evolve into something indistinguishable from the pantheon of religions. Rather, it must devolve back to its roots if it is to survive and thrive. No, the holiness lifestyle does not represent the core doctrines of salvation and oneness theology. But, the holiness lifestyle is the Bible way to accessorize our life. And, holiness is inherently birthed out of a right relationship with God. Why? Because God is holy. When we adopt the lifestyle, we accessorize the life.





[1] Josh Shaffer, News & Observer, Raleigh, NC., 11-11-08

[2]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (1 Jn 2:15-17). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Or reasonable

[3]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Ro 12:1-2). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[4]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Ga 5:19-21). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[5]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (1 Ti 2:8-10). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[6]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (1 Pe 3:3-4). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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Reader Comments (1)

Brother Jordan...

We read your blog. So well written...and a variety of subjects.

Thank you for the current article/blog. How we present ourselves makes the statement of what we appearance or in written word.

Hope these first days of January have been wonderful.

Blessings, the James'

January 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGlen and Carol James

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