I was conversing with someone the other day when the topic of the presidential election came up. I mentioned a candidate, to which the person replied, “Oh, he could never win. He’s too fat.” I began reflecting on that response. In all likelihood, this person was exactly right. Few modern Americans could see beyond his girth. It is not just weight, of course. We Americans tend to be obsessed with judging the value and worth of a person by his or her appearance.
Paul instructs believers to avoid this very thing. Do not judge a person by his appearance, he tells the Corinthians, judge a person by his “heart.” When I think back through human history, some of the greatest people were the short, fat, ugly, and unimpressive ones. The philosopher Socrates was notoriously funny-looking. The prophet Isaiah predicted that the Messiah himself (Jesus) would be unattractive.
If these men were here with us in person, would any of us modern Americans give a hearing to any of them? The modern American obsession with looks and presentation is “fleshly.” It is ignorant and sinful. But it is also self-destructive and stupid. We elect good-looking politicians who are incompetent, corrupt, ambitious, and narcissistic. We choose charming, charismatic pastors who are self-absorbed, foolish, and terrible guides.
Whom do we respect and listen to? It is good to take stock of why.