Chinplants, cyberchondria and high priests

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Chinplants, cyberchondria and high priests

April 17, 2012 -

Do you like your chin?  Apparently many of us don’t.  Last year, 20,680 Americans underwent chin augmentation surgery, also known as a “chinplant.”  According to this morning’s CBS News website, this constitutes a 71 percent rise in the procedure since 2010.  “Chinplants” are the fastest-growing surgery in the country, with as many men as women choosing the operation.

A plastic surgeon creates a pocket in front of your chin and inserts an implant made of silicon or other materials.  The procedure lasts between 1 and 3 hours, and is intended to improve your jawline.  One plastic surgeon says that his chin implant clients have included many CEOs, since “people subconsciously associate a stronger chin with more authority, self-confidence and trustworthiness.”

In other strange health news, the current edition of Newsweek reports that “cyberchondria” is reaching epidemic proportions.  According to a 2009 Pew poll, 61 percent of Americans use the Web for medical information.  Other studies indicate wide levels of increased anxiety as a result.  When our problems match a few of the symptoms listed on the site we’re exploring, we assume we must have the disease it describes.  But sometimes a headache is just a headache.

My first response to our fixation with physical appearance and health was to be critical.  I started to comment on the fact that “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  But further reflection changed the direction of this essay.  I’ve been reading in Exodus lately, where God went to great lengths to prescribe the appearance of his high priest.  His ephod (a kind of robe) was made “of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen (Exodus 39:2).  His waistband was made of gold as well (v. 5).  His breastpiece was embedded with 12 precious stones (vs. 10-14).  Gold rings attached the breastpiece to the ephod (vs. 17-21).

Why did the high priest’s appearance matter so much?  Over his garments he wore a plate inscribed with the words, “HOLY TO THE LORD” (v. 30).  He was dressed in the finest of materials, not to glorify the man but the Lord he represented.

I am convinced that God wants us to be excellent in everything we do, but for his glory, not ours.  Our health directly impacts our ministry.  Our appearance sends a message that either draws people to our Lord or turns them away from him.  Scripture is clear: “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Are you committed to the kind of excellence that honors your King?  Anyone who knows you’re a “Christian” has the right to expect you to be a “little Christ.”  A deserter named Alexander was brought before Alexander the Great, who thundered at him, “Change your behavior or change your name!”  If you were to wear a sign proclaiming that you are “holy to the Lord,” how would it change your behavior today?

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