Today: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The body in the Bible: your hair matters    (9/9/2012 1)

The English language has several phrases about hair; one of them is ‘Let’s not split hairs’, which means ‘let’s not get so fussy about detail that we take a really small thing and make it even smaller.’ In other words, let’s stay with the main point and not get distracted.

So, how small is a human hair? Apparently hair varies from about 40 microns to 120 microns in diameter. A micron is a millionth of a metre — so that’s four thousandths of a centimetre. You’d have to lay as many as 4,000 hairs side-by-side to make up a centimetre. And even if my maths isn’t quite right, I think we can agree that a hair is a pretty small thing.

The Bible picks up on the same theme, so I’ve chosen three passages to mention here:

Jesus said, “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of… value.” In other words, God knows at all times exactly how many hairs are on your head. As soon as one starts to grow — he knows. And the moment a single hair falls away, he knows.  

What does this tell us? Well, that God is intimately connected with every small detail of our lives — details so small that even we may not be aware of them. How much more, then, can we rely on God to care about the things we are conscious of: our worries, fears and sadnesses; our hopes, plans and happinesses. Nothing is too trivial to bring before God — and he already knows about it and shares our connection with it. We matter to God.

Again, when St Paul was travelling by ship to Italy, the ship hit bad weather and everyone on board was very afraid — almost 300 people. The sailors worked for two weeks to keep the ship safe, but because increasingly exhausted. However, an  angel appeared to Paul and told him that, although the ship would have to run aground, no one would be hurt. Paul passed on this message, saying: “not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.”

In his famous Sermon on the Mount, when he preached to thousands on a hillside, Jesus said this: “Do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.” His point is that we shouldn’t make rash promises, since we can’t predict what might happen in future, nor can we control the future, or how we might behave in response to anything that might happen. We can’t even trust ourselves to keep our own promises.

Jesus means that making a promise can’t achieve anything in itself: it can’t even change the colour of a single hair. Instead, we should hand control over to God, who can make things happen and does work to our good. God is in control and can be relied upon.

No matter what’s going on in our lives — however big or small — God knows about it before we do, is concerned about it, and is in control. We may not always understand his actions, but he’s right there in that situation with us.

Pray: Lord God, sometimes I wonder if you notice what's going on for me, or I feel bad about praying for small things when so many big things are going on in the world. Thank you for reminding me that the tiniest things still matter to you. Amen.

Think about: Why do you think the Bible picks the hair to represemt something small, not the cell or the molecule?

Challenge: Is there someone you really don't like, or even someone you just can't stand? God knows exactly how many hairs their are on their head, too. He knows and loves them just as much as he loves you. Does understanding this help you see beyond your differences, to the person beyond them?

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