Someone once said, “What good is a handsome new suit if the man inside of it is rotten!?”
Now that is a pretty bold statement—but a statement, nonetheless, that speaks to the issue of style versus substance.
The style-versus-substance debate has been around for a long time—and today there remains much evidence that our culture continues to reward style (otherwise known as glitz, entertainment, fashion, popularity or beauty) over substance (otherwise known as truth, benefit, principle, integrity or character). You get the picture.
And today, whether we talk about advertising, fame or even one’s self-image—we see the sad reality that the majority of people are far more influenced by the “image”—style or outward appearance of things rather than the real redeeming value or substance of that thing or person!
So what about you? Where are you in the style-versus-substance debate? What do your choice of clothing and cars, your focus on your looks and beauty, and the way you spend your time indicate about your values when it comes to style versus substance?
It’s a question worth asking.
The apostle John gave a sobering warning to those in the early Church when he said, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
But he goes on to explain further, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
In first-century language, John was referring to the style-versus-substance tug-of-war that can happen with us.
So, in a sense, he was also warning the Church about the ease with which some would be caught up in the culture of looks and style over the substance of God’s Word and the true understanding of God’s law, His plan and His way of life.
We get distracted by “the style” and then overlook “the substance.”
Taking the thought a step further, there are plenty of preachers today that will strive to make their explanation of Scripture—their version of right and wrong in the Bible—more palatable or more “in step” with our modern culture and values. In other words, many ministers and theologians are more concerned about “appearing right” by being in style or in step with our society about their explanation of Scripture than they are to being committed to actually being right and accurate—in both their understanding and application of the Bible to life in the 21st century!
We at Life, Hope & Truth are committed to providing the deep and substantive answers to life’s most challenging questions—understanding which comes directly from the Scriptures themselves—the Word of God.
Answers that may not always be high on style in the eyes of some—but we believe are solid in the area of substance!
That is why our understanding of how and when to worship God is different from most sources.
That is why our belief about God, Satan and the destiny of mankind is also different from what most voices in the Christian world might say.
I should not leave the impression that God is somehow against what we call style. God would expect His people to look nice, dress fashionably but modestly—and is certainly not against owning nice things.
But God and His Word are far less concerned about being accepted by the majority and “seeming to be right” than He is about being defined by truth.
We hope your search for the answers to life’s questions will result in you finding the substance of understanding and truth which God’s Word provides.
For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Doug Horchak.