Thursday, February 18, 2010

Whose Image?

A few days ago, we sat on the driveway of our friends, waiting for them to join us.
I looked out my passenger seat window and noticed the tree right beside me. I stared at it for awhile not quite believing what I was seeing, then pointed it out to my husband.
"Look, there is a perfect picture of a tree on the trunk of that tree!"
No one had tampered with it, no one etched it in, it was obviously there simply by how the tree formed in its bark a perfect image of itself.
I saw the object lesson of the tree.
Though each of us lives hidden away in our physical body, we project a perfect image of ourselves on the outside for people to see. We may try to 'pretend' , holding up a facade of what we wish we were, but we cannot hide for long who we really are.
By default each of us is born with a self-focus. We look out for number one. We want to be loved, noticed, stroked, fed, catered too. We think about getting before we think about giving. We are born with a self-preservation instinct that is God given, but we guard it in our own strength.
I had looked at the tree in my photo many times but never noticed the clearly visible self-portrait on its trunk. It obviously formed gradually over the life of the tree.
We are etching the lines of who we are over the years of our life, our thoughts , our deeds, our actions, reactions all taking hold of the brush that will paint what others see.
Many of us, at some point in our life look at our self-portrait and become wise to the fact that we are dissatisfied with what we see - 'self' isn't all that satisfying or fulfilling and we wish we could be something/someone else.
I recently read Edith's Schaeffer's book The Tapestry and something she said stayed with me. She spoke of how even in the most degenerate and miserable of human beings there remains buried within them a remnant of the original image of who they were meant to be.
Man was created in the image of God; that image was written into the code of our DNA and passed down to every human being.

Gen 1:27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

We have a choice... is it the image of 'self' that we will present for others to see? Or will we nurture that image of God that lies dormant within us until we allow God to join His Spirit to our faith and cause that image to be brought to the light. The Light that will shine in us until we become like God's own Son.

Rom 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
It is a process, little by little we allow the character of Jesus to be formed in us until people looking at us will see - Christ's character instead of our fleshly 'self' !!!
First we put on the new man .... turning away from the demands of our own desires, and the thinking of the world around us.
Col 3:10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,
Then we throw away our 'self' mirror and look into the mirror of the Lord, into His face!
2Co 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

I think about the obsession that our world has with outer beauty... the money spent on 'image' from make-up to cosmetic surgery... and in the end -- has much changed ?
How much better to let the change happen from the inside out - the beauty that neither time or eternity can mar or steal !
Sometimes I meet a stranger, who doesn't feel like a stranger at all.... I look at them and 'see' - the image of Christ - and I know they are a brother or sister in the Lord. My heart warms within me.
So the question presented to each one of us is this - whose image will we bear today? a 'self-image' or the image of the One who created us to be like Him, to reflect the beauty of His character.


charlotte mgcc said...

Julie, this is one of the most beautiful and timely posts that I have read in a very long time.
Thank you for sharing you Godly wisdom and encouragement....whose image is more beautiful than the one that God created.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

I totally agree: the image of Christ in one's life is the most beautifully and most important, and looking beyond the damage inflicted on hearts and souls to see the original intended image of Christ is a way to offer grace to a difficult person.

I hope others see Christ in me when they see me, but I'm still going to be using make up and anti-aging creams too...

Anneliese said...

This aging process has reminded me too, as hard as it is, that real beauty is what comes from inside... if we seek after Him.

betty r said...

As soon as I saw that pic of the tree I knew you would have a lesson for us and a very good one at that!! Thank you..