Image. We live in a world that exists for image. Image fuels the activity of our culture. How one appears to others captivates the hearts and minds of individuals from all ages and backgrounds. Even children pick up on image and discover how the system works. From the toddler years on, kids know that they can achieve much by portraying a certain image to their parents. They learn to appear as if they have obeyed. They can make their room appear as if it has been cleaned. College students have also bought into the idea of image. They use it to their advantage as well. Students are experts at presenting themselves as mature adults who have obtained wisdom. Students, still connected to their parents’ financial umbilical cord, use image to impress professors, peers, and future employers. Even the rest, young families, middle-aged, and the retired thrive on image. We all are good at what we do. We know how to paint a picture of ourselves that is not entirely accurate.
But what is the reason for the entire obsession over image? Why all the fuss about creating an image that might be false? First of all, a preoccupation with image stems from the fact that people care what others think of them. Inherently this is not something bad. In fact, the writer of Proverbs tells us that, “a good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold” (22:1). This verse speaks about reputation, or the image that a person creates by the life that they live. Having a good image is ok, so long as it is natural and not fabricated. Caring about what others think is not evil but in many ways it is healthy. The problem occurs when our image becomes a product of our fear of rejection and worry of acceptance.
As humans we long for acceptance; we long for others to approve of us and embrace us as their own. The enemy of ours souls, however, has twisted the proper use of image and made it so that we now want to chase an image rather than change who we really are. We want people to accept us based on the image that we portray. This results in a tiring and endless effort to sustain what we have shown ourselves to be. So what now do we do? How do we let go of this attachment to image?
As believers we must remember that God’s acceptance is not based on a false image. The Pharisees already tried that and Jesus rebuked them, so we know that God does not work that way. God sees our hearts, and he knows our thoughts. As a believer you are an object of God’s love and mercy, so stop trying to cast an image as if that is what will gain your favor with God. Favor with God is not about persona, but about obedience.
Also, remember that there will be times when others try to pressure you with how they want to see you. Remember that you seek to please God and not man. Take the words of Paul as he battled over his image in eyes of the Corinthian church, “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you?” (2 Cor. 3:1close2 Corinthians 3:1 Ministers of the New Covenant 3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? (ESV) close2 Corinthians 3:1close2 Corinthians 3:1 Ministers of the New Covenant 3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? (ESV) Ministers of the New Covenant 3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? (ESV) ). Paul’s stance should encourage us. No matter what the world tells us, and no matter how others try to conform us, we must remember that image is not our goal in life. Our pursuit is to believe and obey the God who loves us. Leave image in the world’s backyard. It’s not ours to play with.