Missing the Point

A choir met in a conference room of their hotel to practice for their evening program. As they finished the last song for their practice and waited as the choir director gave them some final instructions. “Please remember, choir, as you are getting ready for the program tonight, don’t forget what our purpose is. We are trying to bring a message in song to the homeless men at this shelter that don’t know God. We want them to hear a message from God and for their lives to be impacted. You may be the only “Jesus” they’ll ever see.

“So now as you go to your rooms to get ready, don’t just focus on your outward appearance. Remember it’s not the way you comb your hair, it’s not about how well your shirt is tucked in, it’s not about ironing your pants with a perfect pleat in the front. None of that is what matters to these guys. Getting your heart ready is more important. Spend time in prayer, put on a gentle, meek spirit that displays the love of God to these men. Getting your ‘inward man’ dressed is most important because we want them to see Jesus in us.”

As the choir members moved to their rooms, Tim grumbled to Dave and John, “I don’t know what the big deal is. I always iron pleats in my pants. Now suddenly we aren’t allowed to anymore?”

Dave replied, “I don’t care what he says, I’m ironing my pants. And combing my hair.”

John responded, “I don’t think that’s what he meant. He wasn’t saying we couldn’t do anything about our outward appearance. He just meant that our main focus shouldn’t be on that. I’m going to try to get ready quickly and then go spend some time praying.”

“You mean to tell me you’re going to do like Dave, too, and still iron your pants?” Tim questioned, rather taken aback.

“If I have time I will. I don’t think it’s really that big of a deal.”

Tim answered quickly, “I’m not. I don’t want to get in trouble. I may not like it, but if I’m going to err, I’d rather err on the side of safety. I am going to tuck my shirt in though. It would just seem weird not to.”

Now from this story, answer three questions:

1. Is the choir director’s preference that men everywhere would stop ironing pleats in their pants, or just the members of his choir?

2. Would the choir director also prefer women to refrain from ironing pleats on their clothes?

3. Which of these three boys is understanding and following the choir director’s directions best?

*********

Some of the questions themselves seem pretty ridiculous. But when reading Scripture, this is often exactly what we do. We choose one thing to focus on, misread, misapply, and make decisions accordingly.

Now read this passage:

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward– arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel– 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:1-4 NKJV)

Now imagine that scenario with the choir members –only put it in this passage. Why only focus on one thing said by Peter in this selection? Why do we see this selection mostly as proof not to wear gold? Is that what Peter meant? Should we also no longer arrange our hair, or put on nice clothes?

Suppose we ask those same previous questions again, only worded to fit this passage?

1. Is Peter’s preference that women everywhere would stop wearing gold, or just the women with unsaved husbands?

2. Would Peter also prefer that men cease wearing gold?

3. If three women were to have a conversation (about wearing gold rather than ironing pleats) like those three boys were, which would be most understanding and following Peter’s directions best? The first one who defiantly says she is going to wear gold–and arrange her hair– no matter what this passage says; the one who wants to “err on the side of safety” but is still going to “wear nice clothes”; or the one who says she is going to make sure she is going to put on the “hidden person of the heart” and not put her focus on the outward appearance?

Questions one and two miss the point altogether because that’s not what Peter was attempting to address in this passage. The questions about the choir director were obviously silly in the first story, but yet these are the type of questions people focus on when focusing only on the directives given in 1Peter 3:3.

Let’s not miss the point of the passage in our effort to prove that we shouldn’t wear gold.

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4 thoughts on “Missing the Point

  1. I really liked the way you recast 1 Peter 3:1-4. It helps us to look at it with fresh eyes instead of the way we always have.

    Also, what about the KJV reading, where it says, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of… putting on of apparel”? Should we likewise take that to mean that we should go naked so as not to adorn ourselves with clothes? Doubt it. 🙂

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  2. Pingback: Does 1Timothy 2 Forbid Wedding Bands? | Another Radical Reformation

  3. Very clearly explained. I agree with your observations but ask you to consider two additional aspects of your metaphor. How does a sheepfold figure in as a fenced enclosure but not a pasture? Secondly, what is the difference between an undershepherd and a hireling? Now a Mennonite, I come from a mainline and then evangelical background. We had paid pastors and no written discipline. The grass was not any greener on that side of the fence.

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    • Jean,
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I’m assuming that you meant to comment on the “Radical Shepherding” post.

      I don’t know that I have a complete analogy for those two, but I will share a few thoughts that I have on it. A sheepfold was a safe place to go to at night if there was danger, or for warmth as they huddled together during cold times, but it was not a place to live. Jesus said He was the door to the sheepfold, so that could mean His Church. To me, I could see this as being a time of gathering together with other sheep. Times of gathering with other believers in safety and to restrengthen each other is crucial to believers.

      An undershepherd is a pastor under the Great Shepherd.

      There are differing opinions of what a hireling may be referring to. First of all a hireling is someone who has a legitimate place in leadership. They are helping to care for the sheep. But a hireling does his work only for monetary reasons– he is not motivated by a deep concern and love for the sheep that is so great that he put his own safety, reputation, life, etc., on the line for his sheep. A hireling will go with whichever flock benefits him the most.

      Some feel this is not someone in the position of pastor, but rather someone who is in a paid position under a pastor. Others feel this could be a pastor who does not have a true pastor’s heart and is motivated by something other than love for his people. I think the analogy could work either way. And even those not being paid could be hirelings. Money is not always the drive for those with wrong motives.

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