Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“Upon this, the Samaritan woman asked, ”How is it that you, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?”
None of us thinks that Jesus wore a badge on his chest that read, “I am a Jew.” Then, when she met Jesus at noon by a well near her city, how did the Samaritan woman know, without asking, that Jesus was a Jew? It could only have been because of something physical; that is, how he was dressed and/or how he spoke or behaved. The Lord dressed and conducted himself as any normal Jewish man of his time would have, and she recognized his nationality on that mundane basis only.
What can we learn from this seemingly insignificant fact? One obvious truth that we can glean from that scene in the Gospel of John is that if we want to be like Jesus, then we must dress normally for our time and place in history. We are to do as Jesus did, and watch the society around us and see what is considered normal attire for our place in society, and then dress that way. For the children of God, decent sinners are our models concerning styles of dress. That is the way Jesus showed us to choose a wardrobe, and it is sin to choose a wardrobe on any other basis.
This standard is the standard of true holiness, and its simplicity makes it difficult for many to find. Men are always looking for a way of religion that will make them look and behave differently from what is ordinary in this world. But a truly spiritual man is one who is not trying to be different from the world because a truly spiritual man is already different from the world and is trying to be as much like others as he can be. We were trained in the theater that to play the role of an inebriated person, one must concentrate intensely on being sober. A drunk isn’t trying to be drunk; he is already drunk. He is trying to be sober. And it is this way with true holiness. The man who is full of the holy Ghost is so different from others inwardly that he spends his time trying to be like the people around him.
This means that if you see a man walking down the street who appears to be holy, he is not. If he dresses differently from the way normal, decent men in society dress, he is a charlatan. Even in the Old Testament, such men wore distinctive religious clothing not because they were really holy but only to impress and deceive people (Zech. 13:4).
Be normal. True holiness is not contrary to common sense and decency. Part of what makes the way to eternal life so narrow is that it requires true humility to give up the flesh’s desire to have an appearance of good without the substance of it. Paul warned us to “avoid the very appearance of evil”. I warn you that part of the “appearance of evil” that you must avoid is the mere “appearance of good”.