• Yellow Pencils
Yellow Pencils “R” Us
By June Narber
As a body of believers, we in the Sabbath community come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds. However, we often end up expecting everyone in our circle of faith to act alike, think alike, and most of all, to LOOK alike.
Our creator made an incredibly diverse world. Tens of thousands of varieties of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, birds, ocean creatures, and insects (not to mention the other subdivisions of creatures) roam the earth. With so much variety in nature, is it any wonder that God made diversity among humans, the only living creature made in the image of God himself? Often in the church, we find ourselves judging someone if they look different, act different, or come from a background that we may not personally understand. We used to joke at Ambassador College and call ourselves “yellow pencils”, as we had to dress conservatively, men had similar hair cuts, no women wore makeup (in those days), and so forth. Was all of that really necessary in order to be true followers of Jesus Christ? I don’t think it was. Today, we live in a multi-cultural society. Perhaps in the not so distant future, God is going to start calling more and more people into His truth. Among these, will be people that we see few of in the “church” today.
Consider for a moment, how the church would change if more young people, all of a sudden, came into it? What would happen if several high ranking “corporate types” walked through our doors? What if a supermodel came to church? What would happen if anyone “different” from the working class came into our midst? Would they be treated well? Consider for a moment how people in YOUR area have been treated. If a person has their hair a little too long, or a little too short, are they immediately singled out as a gossip topic and labeled as not being “Christian”? In my observations, the two most judged areas in the Churches of God, include women (in all regards: clothing, makeup, their “appointed” role via career, family), and the possession of money and/or the college educated. For example, if a woman wears a little brighter makeup than you are used to, do you think “daughter of Jezebel”? In one church I am familiar with, the ministers will not allow women to come to services unless they have dresses or skirts on, no slacks are allowed. The reason is that slacks are considered a man’s clothing garment. Let’s evaluate this example. Clothing styles are a culturally defined phenomenon. In ancient Israel, males wore robes. Technically speaking then, skirts were originally a man’s “garment”. We cannot add additional laws to God’s word, in order to legislate how a person is to dress. If we do, we are no better that the Pharisees! Modesty is always the main objective. If someone is dressing with half of their body exposed (the parts that generate sexual excitement), some one of the same gender should take this person aside in private and talk to them. Another common subject is the use of jewelry. Anyone can make the Bible say anything they want it to say, if they take a couple of verses out of context. God created gorgeous gems and rocks in a variety of colors and textures. Gems are most beautiful when cut so they can reflect the light. They show some of God’s most incredible artistic work in the Creation. If we are not supposed to wear them, what are we supposed to do with them? Would God have us leave them buried deep in the Earth?
If so, why did he create them to be so gorgeous when cut? If a supposed rule of God does not measure up to common sense, we need to make sure that we have the rule right.
I do not believe it is a sin to wear jewelry; only if such things become an icon to us; and that is by far in the minority of cases. There is little difference in decorating our own “selves” verses decorating our homes. For example, I could dress in pastel pink from head to toe (including pink gem jewelry) or have every square inch of my house done in pink: what is the difference? It is a matter of beauty and personal creativity, and of personal expression of individual. There is nothing sinful in any of this. Some examples might show a person has little cultural taste or flair for color or a sense of matching, but it does not constitute SIN, the breaking of one of God’s spiritual laws.
Consider the subject of money. Many people translate the scriptures to read, “Money is the root of all evil”. I hear brethren saying that God only calls poor people now, the weak of the earth, because they are the only ones He wants. Excuse me? Are these people not adding additional words to a scripture to twist it to fit their personal rendition? Such an idea would make a poor person feel really good about themselves, but God is not a respecter of persons. There are examples in the Old and New Covenants of very rich people and very poor people, all of whom worshipped God in fear and trembling, and who will be part of the first resurrection. Another area that always has mystified me is the open hostility in the church toward those who are educated. It appears as though this generation of God’s church as reversed the discriminations found in society. If this is truly the case, we are NOT using God’s Holy Spirit properly, or at all in these cases. Just because some one has a selfish view point they hold in order to exalt themselves and personal “life circumstance”, does not make their situation the godly ideal in which to render as the ideal Christian ideal.
Makeup, clothing, jewelry, money-all of these things must be individually balanced in the Christian’s daily walk with God. The brotherhood of believers is comprised of the rich and the poor, male and female, the brilliant and the ignorant, and many shades of color. We must not judge those that are different from us in worldly possessions, physical attire, or professionally. We should only be concerned when the subject at hand is a matter of sin, the breaking of one of God’s Ten Commandments.
The last time I checked, there were still only Ten Commandments. Some times I have wondered if there was not an Eleventh Commandment that said, “Thou women shall submit in all things”, and a Twelfth Commandment that said, “Thou must be poor, blind, and ignorant in order to follow me”; but as we all know, these are not the case.
Yellow pencils have their purpose. They are instruments to be written with. However, God’s creation is an incredibly diverse and complex thing. We should not attempt to destroy the individuality and the uniqueness of each other by trying to mold each other into our “own image”. Instead, we should learn from each other, improving on our strengths, and casting our weaknesses aside. We should be industrious, developing our talents in fear before God. So what if a talent comes wrapped in a human package we might not expect? Most of all, we should appreciate the talent, intelligence, and gifts of others. Maybe we judge others out of jealousy, especially if they have more money than we do; or they are obviously more talented or even physically attractive. So what? Learn to develop yourself into the best you can be! I can assure you that right now, you are NOT the best that you can be, as it is a life long process! Perhaps we judge others based on physical things because only by chopping someone else down below our level, can we keep our self esteem high. If any of this ring true in regard to your own behavior or attitudes, it is time to break the yellow pencil mentality and learn that individuality and diversity are among the greatest gifts we have received as a human being made in the image of God. We develop God’s character and apply HIS way of life to our own individual and unique lives. This way, every sector of society can be penetrated by the light of God’s way of life. There is such great beauty in each of us. Open up your eyes a little more and see the beauty around you. (By the way, pencils now come in a variety of colors).
Copyright © 2010 June Narber, All Rights Reserved.