Image is everything. Or is it?
What others think about me defines who I am. Or does it?
What does God think about me? I love what Ruth Myers says about our One True Mirror. “This mirror always reflects genuine acceptance and a totally accurate picture of who we are.”
But often those lies of the enemy about the importance of image cause me to lose focus on My Audience of One. Cause me to forget who I really am.
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
The truth is that while I will have to wait until heaven to “fully know,” at this very moment I am fully known. And fully loved. Unconditionally. Eternally. “God wants us to see ourselves this way—loved, accepted, and secure—because in truth this is what we are in Christ.” (Myers)
My identity is not based on others' impressions of me (whether those are good or bad).
My identity is not based on what I can or can’t do. The size of my capacity. The impact of my life.
My identity is not based on my self-evaluation of whether I am doing enough or whether I am good enough.
The truth is that “nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)
This is a promise. Not based on my performance. Not based on how spiritual I feel today. Not based on my circumstances. But based on Jesus’ finished work on the cross and His ongoing resurrected power at work within me.
In reality, what I accomplish or what others think of me does not define who I am.
In Here and Now Henri Nouwen says, “As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations…To the degree that we embrace the truth that our identity is not rooted in our success, power, or popularity, but in God’s infinite love, to that degree can we let go of our need to judge.”
We are able to let go of the way we naturally judge ourselves and other people, when we let go of the grip that image has on our lives. Image is not everything. God’s infinite love is. This truth can bring real freedom if we believe it not just with our heads but with our hearts.
Nouwen also encourages us to model our lives after Jesus, to embrace our belovedness as He did, and to commit our lives to helping others experience a relationship of communion with our Heavenly Father.
“Jesus’ whole life was a life of obedience, of attentive listening to the One who called him the Beloved. Everything that Jesus said or did came forth from that most intimate spiritual communion. Jesus revealed to us that we sinful, broken human beings are invited to that same communion that Jesus lived, that we are the beloved sons and daughters of God just as he is the Beloved Son, that we are sent into the world to proclaim the belovedness of all people as he was and that we will finally escape the destructive powers of death as he did. (ibid)
In this life, who are we? Really.
“One of the tragedies of our life is that we keep forgetting who we are and waste a lot of time and energy to prove what doesn’t need to be proved. We are God’s beloved daughters and sons, not because we have proven ourselves worthy of God’s love, but because God freely chose us.” (ibid)
Nouwen expounds upon this idea of our belovedness in Life of the Beloved “Becoming the Beloved means letting the truth of our Belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think, say, or do.”
“Becoming the Beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am…” (ibid)
“Every time you feel hurt, offended, or rejected, you have to dare to say to yourself: ‘These feelings, strong as they may be, are not telling me the truth about myself. The truth, even through I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity, and held safe in an everlasting embrace.’” (ibid)
“When we are thrown up and down by the little waves on the surface of our existence, we become easy victims of our manipulative world, but when we continue to hear the deep gentle voice that blesses us, we can walk through life with a stable sense of well-being and true belonging.” (ibid)
Am I living with this stable sense of well-being and true belonging?
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
God, help us to know who we really are. Your beloved sons and daughters. We were made in Your image. Help us not to focus on our own. May we be like David, of whom you said, “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) David, while far from being perfect, viewed his relationship with You as the most important part of his life (Psalm 51). May we not follow the example of Saul, who looked good on the outside (1 Samuel 9:2), but sought the approval and honor of people above all else (1 Samuel ).
Help us to live our lives for Your glory. Not to make a name for ourselves.
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 115:1)
For You alone are worthy of glory. And through Christ, Your Beloved Son, you have made us worthy of your infinite love. Break our distorted image of ourselves, that we might more truly reflect Yours.