The Expository Files

How Do You Express Yourself?


I was acquainted with an interesting man several years ago named Luther. He was a member of the church where I was working; a good and generous Christian who died of cancer. Luther was one of these men who said exactly what he thought. One Sunday evening after services several people came to Luther's home for refreshments. Among the group, a teenage boy who had a very strange haircut, unlike anything you've ever seen. Luther said to the boy, "Adrian, why do you have your hair fixed that way?" The young man gave an immediate answer, "Mr. White, I'm expressing myself!" Luther said, "Why don't you just tell people you are stupid!"

You may believe Luther was too bold and insulting in his manner. But there is a point here worthy of some thought. It is fashionable to focus on self-expression; to advertise your uniqueness by tattoos, body-piercing, unusual hair design, meta-physical dancing or unconventional clothing. And it is interesting how this works. Young people adopt some bold form of self-expression to show they are different from others. Then when others take note of that difference, they are insulted or claim to be victims of discrimination!

Another curious thing to me is, you can take classes and seminars in self-expression and self-empowerment. It just seems odd to me that someone else would teach you how to express yourself. Are they expressing themselves when they teach you how to express yourself?

And there is a web site on the Internet promoting suicide as the ultimate in self-expression. One thing is certain. After this "form of self-expression" there would be no more self-expression, except perhaps for those visiting the grave site. Would this be a post-life self-expression to the living? I don't know. It also occurs to me that some forms of self-expression are really self-desecration (which would be opposed by God's Word in 1 Cor. 6:15-20 & Col. 2:23).

The Bible doesn't encourage all this stress on self-expression. The Lord's message is simple. We have all sinned and so we need the forgiveness God offers in Christ. It becomes us to hear and believe in Christ, then decide to obey Him and be faithful until death. In this kind of life, there is no accent on self-expression. As a Christian you express righteousness, preach the gospel, imitate Christ and refuse to conform to the world's fashions.

Now there is one very important form of self-expression which is a vital part of the Bible's message: the confession of your sin! On the Oprah show (Dec. 1,'98), one of her "experts" said: "Don't claim defective behavior!" The message was, don't talk about my addiction, my adultery, my alcoholism. God calls upon us to do this; to claim, to own and confess our sin (Psa. 32:5; 38:3,18; 51:2,3; Dan. 9:20; 1 Jno. 1:9). This confession should be accompanied by repentance and obedience to God, and in that obedient life - there is the expression of behavior that honors Christ and pleases God.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Rom. 12:1,2) 

By Warren E. Berkley
The Front Page
From Expository Files 6.1; January 1999