I came across this word in a poem today and my mind sparked. Unbecoming. There is something about the word I really like.
Yes, I know that it carries negative connotations: unflattering, unattractive, plain, ugly, inappropriate, unfitting, unsuitable, unacceptable, to name a few. It also carries a sense of what is seen or perceived.
But still, I’m drawn to it. It immediately brings to mind David worshipping as the Ark of the Covenant is brought back to Jerusalem.
2 Samuel 6:16-22
As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, ‘How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would! David said to Michal, ‘It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel – I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.’
Unbecoming. His worship was perceived as inappropriate, unsuitable, and untoward by Michal…his wife. Does the perception of other people hinder our worship and abandon before God? Are we conscious of it? Or are we guilty of looking in judgement on others as they are ‘undignified’ in their pursuit and worship of God?
And what about the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume who anointed Jesus? Was she not unbecoming? Inappropriate? A ‘sinful’ woman daring to enter the home of a Pharisee and single out, touch, weep over Jesus? Awkward! Is our repentance, the recognition of our sin, our mourning over our condition, and our acknowledgment of our need for God ‘unbecoming’? Does it feel awkward? Is that how we perceive the abandon and surrender of others?
Not only was the woman ‘unbecoming’, Jesus was too! This holy teacher allowing himself to be touched, to be defiled by this inappropriate woman. He spent time with inappropriate people, the outcasts, the sinners. Of course, Jesus had his disciples & other followers too. Any extreme is unhealthy, but if you only spend time with Christians are you not more like a Pharisee than Jesus? Building relationships with people unlike you, people you disagree with, people of different backgrounds, cultures, religions, sexual orientation, is an opportunity to grow more like Jesus…and yes, people may perceive it as unbecoming!
Not only can ‘unbecoming’ be something that is seen or perceived, but I believe it may also be a process.
In the late 16th century it’s primary meaning was ‘not fitting’. What if…what if…the way we are living our life, our behaviour, our actions, our thinking, who we are is ‘not fitting’ the kingdom of God? What if God has us all on a process, a journey, of un-becoming? What if it is an unraveling of the things, thoughts, habits, that bind us? What if it’s an unlearning or a deconstruction of all that we know, or think we know about God? Are we willing to ‘take up our cross’, to be labelled with the negatives (unflattering, unattractive, plain, ugly, inappropriate, unfitting, unsuitable, unacceptable etc) as we un-become who we were to become more like Christ?
Unbecoming. I’m ok with that.