My brother and I used to play in the nearby Botanical gardens when we lived on the PNGUM compound in Lae in the 1970s. There were tropical forest paths to trek, vines to swing on, open grassed areas to kick a ball and roads to ride a bike. It was common for all the homes on the compound to host guests for meals—often pastors who were in for meetings. We got to know them well.
One evening my brother had not returned home at the designated time. A well-known missionary, who was joining us for the evening meal, volunteered to find him. When he found Brett, he asked him to come home. However, Brett didn’t recognise the pastor who had a significant beard. Well-schooled in stranger danger, Brett ran the other way. As the pastor chased him, Brett went bush. Defeated, the pastor returned without Brett. My Dad had to find and assure him bearded men were OK.
Beards not only change looks—they can be divisive. I have recently grown my first beard. The October General Conference Annual Council will be held in Battle Creek, where the Seventh-day Adventist Church officially started in 1863. Most of those present then had beards. For historical pictures, participants were asked to grow a beard by Elder Ted Wilson. You will see some Union presidents with whiskers too.
Some people say, “I really like your beard, it suits you, you look wiser and more distinguished.” One even inferred that I looked like George Clooney (they are a friend for life!). However, others have said to my wife, “The beard looks shocking, he looks too old. It has to go!”
It seems most men in the Bible wore beards—not having a beard bought shame (2 Samuel 10:4,5). Although Hebrew men and in particular priests were not to cut their beards in obedience to the covenant (Leviticus 19:27, 21:5), there is no theological significance in a beard. Today they are just a fashion choice. Bearded or not we are loved and beautiful in Jesus.