Religious Fashion Shows

This originally appeared as a weekly devo for whillschurch.org on July 10, 2013.

“Religious Fashion Shows” is the title of above the text Matthew 23 in The Message. This cracks me up and reminds me of a dark time in my life when I would watch “Dancing With The Stars.”

This particular season (I can’t remember which one and I’m too lazy to IMDb it) had a super model and an olympic athlete as part of their stars learning to dance. I remember telling Amy – the model won’t make it two weeks.

Why would I say that? Because a model is concerned about looking good. She’s probably not in shape, she doesn’t have the work effort that an athlete does. And she probably doesn’t have the ability to receive coaching and criticism.

Sure enough – the model was gone in two weeks after one week of crying like a little baby because her dancer partner was too hard on her.

Now before you judge me for watching Dancing With The Stars – I don’t anymore, I’ve repented. I’m a “So You Think You Can Dance” guy now. (Go Hayley.)

And there are some serious spiritual applications here.

Jesus turns to his disciples and says this to them within the first 3 verses:

“You won’t go wrong in following their (the Pharisees) teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it.”

The entire chapter may be the single most important teaching of Jesus on leadership in the scriptures. How “being” is better than “knowing.” How intimacy is better than whatever delivery mechanism or teaching process you may have.

Let me unpack that a bit more…a model or a star or actor can “talk a good line.” They can fake it for a bit. They can be taught some short-cuts, some basics, and/or some ways to hide their weaknesses in their dancing for a few weeks. This is exactly what Dancing With The Stars is – who can fake it the best over the course of the season. They never fully commit to becoming a dancer, to go ‘all in’ in being a dancer. They don’t immerse themselves in dancing and changing their lifestyle for dance. The minute the show is over – they return to whatever their normal life was before the show.

Unfortunately, to many approach their relationship with Jesus this way. Jesus is used to get through a season, a tough spot, to help with marriage or loneliness or raising our kids. Some learn some short-cuts, some basics, maybe some ways to hide their weakness for a little while. It’s like a Religious Fashion Show. When the show is over, the borrowed clothes go back on the rack.

So You Think You Can Dance is a completely different beast. These people are consumed by dancing. They eat, drink, and sleep it. They can’t get enough of it. They are there to get better, to be deeper, to be pushed, to grow as artists, and yes – to win.

Okay – let’s leave the world of dance a bit and wrap this up. Some people get so consumed about rules and appearances and religion, they lose Jesus. It becomes about sin management or reputation protection. They put on this Religious Fashion Show for themselves and others.

Jesus says – it’s better to be consumed by Jesus. Just let him take over and change you from the inside out. Get focused on BEING a Christ-follower, not just doing what Christ-followers do.

[Post-Edit Comment] – I had a friend defend models saying they work out to keep their body in shape and the hours of work they put in. I know this friend’s daughter and I can say this – she was an athlete before she was a model. In this case – she was a dancer before she got into modeling. So the analogy still holds – I THINK.

To all the models who read my blog (cough – ??), just know that we love you dearly and no offense was meant.

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