You’ve heard about Botox – the toxin (poison!) that people use to minimize the appearance of wrinkles – to look younger. Well, there’s a new twist. A recent study in rats shows that the toxin that people inject into their foreheads may travel to the brain, damaging the brain stem! There have also been human deaths related to the botulism toxin. (Read the story at the Orange County Register).
I guess it’s not too surprising that injecting a neurotoxin into your body might not be a good idea, but that tells you something about the culture that we live in. We idolize youth and beauty. We’re willing to poison ourselves to achieve it! That tells you something about the depth of hunger for acceptance in our culture. Everywhere we look, we hear this “gospel” – look good and collect enough stuff and you’ll be happy.
But God has a different plan. God calls us to look beneath the surface. God tells us that appearance isn’t what matters. Instead, Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:15-18 that you can identify what kind of person someone is by their actions, – by how they treat others – not by their appearance. There are “wolves in sheep’s clothing” out there. Jesus is writing about prophets, but I think the principle is more generally applicable. A focus on creating an appearance that we think will please others or hiding our age isn’t what Jesus calls us to. He calls us to bear fruit. Loving and serving others may not make our foreheads look better, but that just poisons us. Loving and serving others builds up our spirit, connects us with God, and helps us to grow into the image of Jesus. We find true acceptance not by looking right by by loving and serving, which, it turns out, is much more attractive than an expensive, expressionless face!