Image

his-imageImage is powerful.

Ask any advertising executive. A carefully cultivated image can make or break a product. Image can make or break an organization. Image can even make or break an individual. But there is one image we should be concerned with above all others…

The fact that we are made in the image of God.

Even so, that isn’t always the image we choose to guard most zealously. Far from it. In fact, God knew we’d have such a strong tendency to get tripped up by the externals of “image” that He gave us a strong warning early on:

You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them. -Exodus 20:4-5 NIV

Did you catch that? You shall not make for yourself an image.  Yet we make images for ourselves all the time.

Even in the church.

Like the church that has always been led by a rather, ahem, “seasoned” generation. Despite many willing and gifted younger people in the congregation, they’re afraid to release them into places of influence within the Body because, in their youth and inexperience, they just might say or do something that would offend the long-term, more conservative members. So they hold on in order to control the image…

The image they’ve created for themselves.

Or like the hip young church that’s all about reaching the next generation. Every detail  is carefully crafted and orchestrated to project a youthful, relatable image. But  if you happen to be not-quite-so-youthful, well, it really doesn’t matter how gifted or even anointed you are, there isn’t a place for you. At least not in a visible place of influence. After all, they need to control the image…

The image they’ve created for themselves.

Is it wrong to honor long-term supporters of a church or ministry? Of course not. Is it wrong to want to create an atmosphere where the young and unchurched feel safe and welcome? Heavens no!

What is wrong is doing these things from a motive that is rooted more in fear than love. When much of your focus is on your own personal comfort zone, or on your own vision and how you think that should play out, or even on how you think someone else wants things to look–chances are you are beginning to operate out  of control and fear. And when you operate out of fear, you will always forfeit a fuller and more complete expression of the Body of Christ. Because a fuller representation of the Body rarely looks exactly like the specific images we’d like to project.

But it will look a lot more like Him. 

God did’t seem particular concerned with Mary’s image as an unwed and inexperienced teenager when he chose her to be the mother of the Messiah. He also didn’t seem particularly concerned with Elizabeth’s image as a barren old woman when He chose her to be the mother of John the Baptist.

He wasn’t concerned that Caleb and Joshua were in their eighties and well past their prime when he sent them to lead the children of Israel into the promised land. He wasn’t concerned with Jeremiah’s youth and bent toward the melancholy when He called him as a prophet to the nations.

He only cared that they were made in His image–created for His purposes, released in His timing.

God likes variety. It takes all of us to rightly represent His image. We all reveal beautiful and unique facets of His face that are only seen in fullness when we co-labor together.  Generations are supposed to run together, not at the expense of each other. We are supposed to mutually support each other, not stunt and dismiss each other.

We are supposed to call out His image in each other, not conform to the one we’ve made for ourselves.

Yep, image is powerful. No matter who you are. No matter where you are. No matter how old you are. We are all fearfully, wonderfully, and powerfully made …

In His image.


2 thoughts on “Image

  1. “We are supposed to call out His image in each other, not conform to the one we’ve made for ourselves.”

    Amen! So good, Cindy. So important to remember in our relationships. As Graham Cooke says, even in our “accountability” to one another, we’re to call each other up, not out. There is no place for fear in love. No place for divisiveness, but to embrace our diversity and encourage the other for their benefit, not ours. Freedom in love lets people be themselves in Christ, not conforming them to our image.

    1. “Freedom in love let’s people be themselves in Christ…” Amen and amen. He really does have better ideas if we would just trust enough to let go of the fear! Blessings to you 😊

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