“Oh, have you had plastic surgery?” It’s a frequently asked question.
“We haven’t seen her in months and now she has emerged thinner and her skin appears tighter and more youthful , so clearly she has had work done,” Entertainment reporters accuse celebrities on a seemingly daily basis.
Our so-called modern society seems to be obsessed with a denial of inevitable aging and the absolute refusal of allowing age to be shown.
“Fifty-one year-old woman looks twenty-five,” one advertisement touts.
“Ask us about our Botox VIP program,” another ad invites.
According to The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the most performed plastic surgery in 2011 was Lipoplasty (liposuction) at 325,332 surgeries performed, followed by breast augmentation at a close 316,848. Over 2.5 million botox injections – a.k.a. Botulinum Toxin Type A – were authorized and performed that year (2,619,739 to be exact).
According to Wikipedia, “Botulinum toxin is a protein and neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Botulinum toxin can cause botulism, a serious and life threatening illness in humans and animals.”
Botox, as it is known for medical and cosmetic procedures, can be absorbed from eyes, mucous membranes, respiratory tract or non-intact skin. Justinus Kerner (1786-1862), a German poet and medical writer described botulinum toxin as a “sausage poison” and “fatty poison” because it often grows in improperly handled meat products. The toxin was purified for the first time in 1928 and a little over 20 years later it was discovered through experiments that the botulinum toxin blocks neuromuscular transmission through decreased acetylcholine release.
If any of that made sense, or sounds good as something to purposely inject yourself with for beauty reasons, then you have far more faith in the medical community of practicers than I.
But the older a person gets the more wrinkles their skin shows and the saggier certain body parts get. That’s the nature of flesh for you. But apparently natural aging provides little concern for the condition the soul that rests inside that body.
David wrote in Psalms, “For like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” – Psalms 37:2-4 (New International Version).
I’m no certified theologian, but what I read in those verses don’t say that in giving “you the desires of your heart” that He will give you the skin of a 25-year-old the rest of your life. And “safe pasture” doesn’t mean physical safety. Throughout history, many righteous people have suffered and tragically lost their physical lives. God did not always rescue their flesh. Though the reasons for life’s tragedies, worldly problems and dilemmas and, yes aging, remain a mystery, it is by faith that we can conclude that “safe pasture” refers to the spiritual safety He guarantees us, not aesthetic safety or beauty.
Vanity has a way of keeping one from realizing the faults in one’s life. It deters one from having a clear view of self. Whether hyper-vain in believing they are the most beautiful person on Earth, or hypo-vain thinking that no one can be uglier than them – thinking that no one could possibly need to be aesthetically-altered more than them – keeps them fully wrapped up in their flesh. In today’s modern society it doesn’t seem polite to say vanity or the lack thereof. Instead we label this as self-esteem levels. Either way you look at it, it causes people to lose focus on the status and needs of their soul. Vanity causes someone to be self-centered and self-focused, and is a tool of evil which causes humans to keep from examining themselves on the inside.
“For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin” – Psalms 36:2.
We, especially in this society of celebrity, beauty, size-0 models and so-forth, put too much emphasis on outward appearance. Even some who claim to be righteous do so only to show others how righteous they can appear to be. The Bible warns these people. Jesus himself said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 7:21
As a Food and Drug Administration-approved substance for treating strabismus and other eye-related disease, botox itself continues to rapidly become a major industry in the United States. The global botox market is forecast to reach $2.9 billion by 2018. The entire global market for facial aesthetics is forecast to reach $4.7 billion by 2018, of which the US is expected to contribute over $2 billion.
Some reject the idea of having low self-esteem levels as they continue walking into visual enhancement clinics. Some say they are just fixing themselves to be how they have always imagined they should look. Others try to “reverse the aging process” with make-up, masks, gels and other semi-liquid concoctions before going the way of the injection or scalpel. These agents, whether they work or not, provide for another multi-billion dollar industry in our world: cosmetics
“Our skilled plastic surgeon and medical staff take great pride in our highly efficient and reliable procedure, from consultation to surgery,” a website reads as it attempts to calm potential clients.
Truth is, if you’re looking at one of these websites, you’re either conducting research for a column such as this one, or are already convinced that your body – not your soul – can get closer to perfection.
As explained in last week’s edition of the Journey, “Nobody’s perfect,” except Jesus. Although I’m sure there are a few surgeons who would suggest they could help Him get rid of those nasty-looking nail scars in His hands. Oh, and don’t forget the ones caused by the crown of thorns forced upon His head before being torturously hung on a cross.
During consultation, one might say “Our skilled plastic surgeons” can give you back those six-pack abs Jesus. That will help to cover-up the place where You were relentlessly stabbed with a spear. “We can get you ready to go shirtless at the beach,” the doc might say.
Maybe those last jokes were a little too rough for some, but the truth is that our modern world tries to hide and cover-up the life, gruesome death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven of Jesus every day. So if He were in the flesh today, why wouldn’t they try to mask His scars as well.
Truth is that none of us should be more concerned with the outward appearance of our bodies over the wrinkles in our spirit. Truth is every one of us humans was created special to Him who made us. Besides, one day the flesh that we wear today will be gone. It’s nature. We can’t fight death, nor can we escape it. A fight against aging is just as futile – it’s going to happen. What we should all be concerned with is preparing ourselves for the life after the flesh is gone. Whether a positive afterlife or negative is up to each individual and whether or not they accept Jesus Christ to forgive them of sin and save them from hell. Flesh can only last 100-years at the most give-or-take. But the spirit can live forever in peace or torment.
Now to our title: No Vanity for old Souls. According to information gathered by Frontier Harvest Ministries, there are 2 billion Christians serving God in 141 countries today (roughly 33% of our current global population). However, there have been 2.4 billion people who have been taught about Christ but remain non-Christian. While Americans continue to roll out dollars for cosmetic surgeries and procedures, only about $250 million gets spent on foreign missions annually. That’s not Baptist, Protestant or any other denomination. That’s all of them!
Another fact for you: America, known for being the land of God has the least number of converts per year, according to the above referenced data. The country with the highest Christian conversion just happens to be a country formerly known for killing Christian missionaries: China. That’s right! According to the statistics, China’s Christian population grows by roughly 10,000 a day.
So while the starting question may indeed be frequently asked, “Have you accepted Christ to forgive your sin and be your personal savior,” is being asked less and less in our country.
But if you are worried about yourself in this life, please consider your soul first.
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn” – Psalms 37:5-6.
If you do this and get your spirit correct in the eyes of God through His son Jesus Christ, then Psalms 37:3, 4, quoted above, will surely be yours. You will find His spiritual “safe pasture,” you will find “delight” in the Lord and . . .
“He will give you the desires of your heart.”