Reality television has been all the rage for at least a decade now. While it actually goes back some decades, it has especially taken off in the past ten years or so. One popular stream of this entertainment genre has been the various makeover shows. They started with home and yard makeovers, such as Backyard Blitz and Renovation Rescue.
More recently they have featured people transformations: various shows which give a person a physical makeover complete with various bits of cosmetic surgery and other radical measures. These include shows such as Extreme Makeover and The Biggest Loser.
One such show that is currently airing takes an older couple and seeks to transform them in just ten days into looking ten years younger. The climax comes at the end when others see the finished result. Invariably at the end of such shows the ones who go through the extensive makeovers talk about how this has changed their life. They say they are a new person, and their life has been radically altered.
Of course as the saying goes, beauty is only skin deep. While physical appearances can certainly impact on one’s self-worth and self-esteem, it is hardly the thing one should put all one’s hopes in. The Bible of course speaks to the fleeting and superficial nature of physical looks.
As it says in Proverbs 31:30, “Beauty is vain and charm is deceitful”. Or as we are instructed in the New Testament, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes” (1 Peter 3:3).
You are told not to judge according to outward appearance, but look at the inner man: “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7).
In similar fashion, Jesus said we should “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Everywhere the Bible emphasises inner beauty, not external looks.
So that is one way to look at such makeover shows. But there is another aspect to this that is worth considering. As I mentioned, people marvel at how such extreme makeovers change their lives. But of course if it is simply a matter of weight loss, very often it will be put back on. If it is a matter of getting rid of wrinkles or other signs of aging, they too will return.
Indeed, old age looms for every one of us, and the attempts to preserve eternal youth – certainly in terms of looks – is doomed to fail in the long run. One can only go through so many jabs of botox, so many breast enlargements, or so many lap band operations.
And while there is nothing wrong with taking good care of our bodies, we are all going to die eventually, no matter how much effort we put into getting the right look and the best bod. As Paul reminds us, “train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).
This passage reminds us about much more important makeovers. It forces us to ask questions such as these: What about my soul? What about my character? What about who I really am deep down as a person, not just what I am like on the surface? This involves a much more important makeover which we all desperately need. And it is a much more difficult makeover to achieve.
In fact, on our own, it is impossible. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil” (Jeremiah 13:23). There are some things which we just can’t change on our own.
Our fundamental problem is not how we look. It is not how ugly or pretty we are. It is not how fat or thin we are. It is not how tall or short we are. It is not how old or young we are. Our real problem has to do with sin and self.
The Bible makes it clear that we are all fallen, and totally fixated on self. Sin has affected every single one of us. And the biblical diagnosis is not very good. Scripture tells us that we are no-hopers while bound to sin and self: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour” (Colossians 1:21).
Indeed, our own “righteousness is as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). And Paul looks back on his illustrious religious past before he knew Christ in these terms: “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).
That is why we all need the most radical of extreme makeovers, a makeover which must be done for us. We cannot remake ourselves. How can dead people do anything, let alone remake themselves? Thus the bad news is we are all lost in sin, with no hope of getting out of our predicament by our own efforts.
But the good news of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ came to earth and has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He chose to dwell amongst us, live a sinless life, and then take our place on a Roman cross to pay for the debt we owe because of our sin. He suffered our punishment so that we can be made right with our maker.
This is tremendously good news and it is surely the ultimate makeover. It costs us nothing, but our pride. But it cost God everything: the death of his only son. But he thought the transaction was well worth it. He knew that as self-centred and sinful as we are, by his grace we can still be transformed and made into the image of his son.
And history has witnessed countless millions of such radical makeovers. All sorts of people – drunkards, drug addicts, murderers, rapists, embezzlers, thieves, and even “nice, respectable” people – have been remade as they come to Christ in repentance and receive his forgiveness.
Everyone who has been born again has a story to tell. I too can tell of how God saved me from the gutter – from a life of radical rebellion, drug addiction, depression and suicide attempts, to a new life in Christ. Of course such makeovers are a work in progress and last a lifetime.
But it is a deep-seated makeover – there is nothing superficial about it. Scripture describes the incredible nature of this extreme makeover. As Paul says: “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8). Or again, “you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
Our overwhelming need was met by God’s overwhelming love. Or as former slave ship captain John Newton – who wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace” – said, “I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great savior.” Newton experienced an extreme makeover – one which can only come about with outside help.
This website is ultimately devoted to the earnest desire that everyone comes to experience such a radical makeover. To be transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light is the greatest – and only permanent – makeover a person can experience. My prayer is that every reader will come to Jesus Christ and experience this life-transforming makeover. It is the ultimate reality program.