Summary: Who are you and who do what others to think you are?

Image and Reality- Living the Truth of God’s Declaration

Who are you? Who do you want others to think you are?

Is there a gap between reality and image?

Our society is much into image-making. Political candidates employ smart people to do nothing but create and enhance a positive public perception. These men and women are called ’spin-meisters.’ because they work hard to put the most favorable spin on every news story before it goes public.

Bev and I are blessed with 4 kids. The teen-age years are a trip as any parent can tell you. I found it painful, yet humorous, watching them try on different images as they experimented with their identity. Hair styles went from long to short, from spiky to shorn. One day their clothes would be preppie, the next they would have on the baggy blue jeans. I tried not worry too much about these phases, realizing that it was a way to project an image. By the way, it isn’t just kids who do this. Many men and women work just as hard to look a part, to fit in, to find acceptance in a certain group.

What is troublesome about image-making is the PHONINESS of the process.

So often our calculation is to create an impression that is far different from the reality.

Is that political candidate really a caring person or is that photo of him hugging a resident of a nursing home just a photo-op that some consultant cooked up to enhance his image?

Is that kid really into violent, Gothic music or is he just trying to look tough because he feels so insecure?

Is she really a blond or is it Clairol?

Is he truly a committed Christian, or is he just talking a language he learned from another?

As a result of all the image-making that goes on around us, we crave AUTHENTICITY. We want to know people who are real, whose word can be trusted, whose private lives are the same as their public persona.

Some of you are probably wondering if this is a psychology lecture or a Biblical message. The truth is that your self image is important. How we live, flows out of what we think!

Jesus stated the principle -- Luke 6:43-45 No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

From the Word of God, we learn that our struggles with self-image, our temptations to project a phony

image, our desires to mask and hide our true selves are not primarily psychological, nor sociological. We have a spiritual problem, a need for restoration and healing. We innately sense that we are sinners (that is, those who miss the plans and purposes of God) but we are proud so we cover and hide our sins. Our first parents did it! In the Genesis account we discover Adam and Eve hiding in the Garden from God.

Why? Because they had disobeyed God, corrupting their conscience. Some of the saddest words of the Bible are found in Genesis 3 where we read: 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" 10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

God didn’t abandon us to these lonely hopeless dungeons or leave us to cower behind our carefully crafted masks. He pursues us and in His richly merciful love provides for the restoration of our self-image by changing us from the Inside Out! In Ephesians 2, we read:

"It’s a wonder God didn’t lose His temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, He embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive with Christ. He did this all on His own, with no help from us! Then He picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Now God has us right where He wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus." - the Message

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