Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tattoos For the Glory of God - or Not

I posted a blog back in 2009 titled, "Should Christians Get Tattoos?" It continues to be a question of interest. Body "art" and piercings seem to be more and more a part of our culture. Let me comment on this subject once again.

Surely Christians do not live in a cultural vacuum. We wear nice clothes that are consistent with the current style, while maintaining the Biblical command of modesty. We are mindful of hairstyles consistent with those of our present generation. Christian women wear modest makeup with a desire to accent their God given beauty. But the purpose of all things for the Christian is the glory of God. Our purpose is not to draw attention to ourselves but to ascribe all glory to God. We are never to emulate the practices of the wicked (those who do not love and follow Christ). This is the spirit behind Paul's admonition for ladies to avoid displays of expensive clothing or hairstyles inconsistent with that of a Godly woman (1 Timothy 2:9). Christians do not spend their energy seeking to draw attention to themselves but their greatest desire is to point all attention to Christ. John the Baptist declared what should be the heart of all of us, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 30:30). This takes great wisdom and discernment as we examine our heart. A lady that refuses to cut her hair, wearing it in a huge bun on the top of her head, and wearing dresses that are 30 years out of style, actually draws more attention to herself. I'm not questioning the motives of those who do this. It just stresses the importance of discernment.

As Christians, we enjoy great liberty. God has given us wonderful things to enjoy. We receive His blessings with thanksgiving and rejoice in His goodness. By refusing tattoos, we are not talking about some vain asceticism. And refusing tattoos is in no way an indication of "legalism." Legalism is seeking to gain God's favor through our actions. We can do nothing to earn God's favor. Our motivation for living a Godly life is not to earn God's favor but to exalt Him. On a recent comment on my previous post a young lady wrote, "God will love me not (sic) matter if I have tattoos or not." This misses the point. We aren't seeking to earn God's love but to display Him gloriously before others.

Again, it demands a careful examination of our motives. It demands great wisdom and discernment (Romans 12:1-2). All of us are quite skillful in justifying what we want to do. It is not my responsibility to examine your motives, but it would seem to me, if we honestly examine the motive for tattoos we can only conclude that it stems from a desire to draw attention to ourselves. Look at me. Look at my tattoo. Isn't my tattoo special? I can't imagine someone honestly saying that their motive for getting the tattoo was, look at Christ. Isn't He glorious!

Resurrection Glory

One of the greatest events in the history of the world is one largely ignored by the world. On April 8 we will celebrate Easter Sunday. When I say "ignored by the world" I don't mean the world ignores it completely. As you attach Good Friday to the weekend it provides three days of vacation. In addition, Easter has become a major holiday of decorating, with all the colorful eggs and bunnies surrounded by the beautiful hues of pastels. Children shout with glee as they search and find the Easter eggs, and they find great joy in Easter baskets filled with marshmallow bunnies and chocolate eggs. When I say "ignored by the world" I mean there will be little attention given to the glorious reality of the day.

Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. When Jesus was crucified there was great joy among many. The Jewish leaders were finally rid of this one who challenged their authority and customs, and Pilate was able to wash his hands clean of the whole affair. The crowds mocked and cursed with an air of celebration. Surely, as Jesus was pierced and finally placed in the tomb, Satan and all his demonic hordes must have lifted their fiendish voices in victory. But little did they know that this was all unfolding according to the predeterminate counsel of God (Acts 4:27-28). On the third day Jesus was gloriously raised with all power and majesty.

The resurrection is an indispensable part of the Gospel. Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 15 that the resurrection was at the very heart of his Gospel preaching and he declared that it must be believed. The resurrection is the glorious declaration of "mission accomplished" and "payment received." The sacrifice of Christ was well-pleasing and received by God to fully atone for the sins of His people. Jesus was able to enter into the very throne room of God to offer up His own blood. This day was so significant that the Sabbath Day was moved to the first day of the week.

In addition, the resurrection has changed everything in our life. We are living the resurrected life. By virtue of our union with Christ, His life has become our life. We have been raised to new life (Romans 6:4-5). May we rejoice on this glorious resurrection Sunday as we celebrate our risen Savior. And may our lives testify to the reality of the resurrection.