One of the challenges in life is finding your style; a style you are comfortable with. Mine is business casual. I enjoy wearing sport coats, although usually without the tie. I reserve t-shirts and blue jeans for my day off and for vacation. My children give me a hard time, because in their minds I am always “dressed up.” For me, it is what I am the most comfortable in.
I also like hats. I am not talking about baseball caps. I am talking about wide-brimmed hats, gentleman’s hats, hats with a little class. I have always been a little timid about wearing hats, because I felt self-conscious. Recently I decided to throw caution to the wind. I purchased a genuine fedora and a Stetson trilby. Now that the weather has turned cooler, I wear one of them every day.
The problem with finding our style is that we often allow it to be overly influenced by the opinions of others; or at least to our perceived understanding of those opinions. So what we tend to do is look around at our community and adjust our style to the norm. We would rather live in a style that is not really us, than stand out in a crowd and feel awkward. It takes a certain amount of courage to own your unique style.
As followers of Christ, we need to discover and live out our God-given style. This plays out in two specific ways.
First, we are called to live out a style that is uniquely different from the world around us. We are called to stand out in a positive way and not blend in with the prevailing style of our world. Every Christian is challenged to live a distinctly Christ-like life-style. As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:1-2 Paul expands our understanding of our style in Ephesians 5:1-2. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. This should be every Christians “base” style.
Here comes the rub. Just as we tend to conform to the style we see in the world, we can start to conform to a new, generic “Christian” style. We start looking around at other believers and try to mimic what they are doing. We become cookie-cutter Christians. That is not what Christ has in mind for us.
Just as there is a basic “Christian style” that we are all to conform to, there is a unique, individual style that Christ has for each one of us. We often think of this in terms of our spiritual gifts, but it is more than just that. It is a combination of our gifts, talents, personality and passions. As these elements are brought together, our unique, Christ-shaped style emerges.
Paul talked quite a bit about gifts. He gives lists of gifts. He challenges us to use our gifts. He makes the point that we don’t all have the same gifts and that every gift is valuable and important. In Ephesians 4 he gives a powerful summary about the purpose of our gifts.
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:11-16
Christ wants us to discover our unique style in Him, and then put it to work for the good of the whole. Our ultimate goal is to see everyone become the person Christ created them to be.
Styles in fashion come and go. They are transient and ultimately don’t make any lasting difference in our lives. But our spiritual style is eternal. It is the way that we live out our faith and demonstrate to the world that we are a follower of Jesus. Jesus wants to use our unique, individual styles to open the doors of faith to other people. So what s your style? Whatever your style is, embrace it. It is the way God has equipped you to make a difference in your world.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.