In the world of the selfie, it’s hard to imagine not knowing what we look like. So much rests on the perfect profile shot. My Twitter pic has my chin perched on my knuckles in a bid to look natural, friendly, thoughtful. It’s not brilliant, it’s a bit staged, but normally when the shutter clicks at least one of my eyes is half closed, so my husband and I considered this a good shot. David Gandy is definitely getting more followers, but I’m 99% sure my faithful few aren’t following me for my image.
Or are they? A church worker friend of mine recently commented that she wasn’t sure she’d be able to follow Jesus if she found out that he had, in her words, “aggressive chest hair,” the kind that spills over the top of a cheesecloth shirt. What?? Jesus might have been swarthy in an unattractive way?? No way!! Or what if he was carrying a little extra around the middle? Or smelled bad at the end of all those days wandering from place to place? Can we imagine a Jesus like this? More to the point, could we follow a Jesus like this?
Perhaps we’ve never really thought about it. Hollywood has always portrayed Jesus at least on the handsome side of average. But based on the evidence, there’s every reason to believe that Jesus was distinctly average looking, or worse. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, ‘He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him… Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.’ So why did people follow him? One reason, surely, must be that both in a human and a divine capacity, Jesus cared to see people as they really are. Jesus saw people plainly and accurately and didn’t edit the profile. He himself may not have been much to look at, but Jesus, with a look, loved people (Mark 10:21), challenged people (Luke 23:8-9), and cut to the heart of people (Luke 22:60-61). It’s this Jesus—not my mirror, my phone, followers, likers and subscribers—who reflects me best, who shows me what I’m really like, good, bad or ugly. Jesus knows what I’m thinking (Mark 2:8), sees what I’m doing (Mark 10:14), and searches what’s brooding in my heart (Psalm 139). Though we might wish otherwise, it’s this Jesus, not Jim Caviezel, with whom in the end we will come face to face.
All of which begs the question, what are we really looking for in someone to follow? Someone good looking? Or someone who sees through all that? For the former, follow Gandy. Or Jim Cavaziel. For a real ‘looker,’ follow Jesus.