In 2012 my dermatologist confirmed that there were three places on my nose that were pre-cancerous and in need of treatment. I chose the new three-day treatment that would result in about 2 weeks of redness, burning, and peeling.
It was awful! I don’t think I could’ve endured more than three days of the treatment! A peeling sunburn doesn’t even compare. I’m not sure if makeup made it look better or worse. It was painful and I was very self-conscious about how it looked. (I didn’t take any pictures but now I wish I had some to show you!) Sitting at my desk Saturday night I tried to justify not going to church Sunday morning. I just didn’t want to deal with the looks and the questions.
That’s when the Holy Spirit spoke. “The only image you need to focus on is the Image of Christ.”
I grabbed a piece of scrap paper lying on my desk and wrote down those words. Then I made a list of the images I work to maintain.
• Good wife and mother
• An organized person
• Good home schooling mom
• Healthy and fit
• Creative and crafty
• Good Christian
And that’s just the short list.
Even as I’m writing this I’m thinking of what you might be thinking. Some of you reading this don’t really know me and you won’t think too much about it. Some of you reading it know me well. You may not be surprised by my confession. Others of you may be shocked. Some of you will feel sorry for me. Others of you may secretly gloat over my insecurity. Many of you are relieved to find out you’re not the only one.
The truth is we all, in some way or another, work to maintain an image to someone at sometime. You may say or act as if you don’t care what others think but even that is maintaining an image of indifference. You work to communicate that you don’t care what people think.
For all of us the root cause is a lack of understanding and believing who we are in Christ. There is no need for a “pretense of righteousness” and a mask of perfection. As believers, we are righteous (made right) through Christ.
Funny thing about this story is that I did go to church Sunday morning. (God wasn’t finished teaching me this lesson.) My pastor preached from II Samuel 6:12-23. As the ark of God was being brought into Jerusalem King David danced in celebration. Michal, his wife, accused him of making a fool of himself. She was really worried about how his behavior made her look. Image maintenance. His response is recorded in verses 21- 22. The Message records it like this: “In God’s presence I’ll dance all I want! Oh yes, I’ll dance to God’s glory—more recklessly even than this. And as far as I’m concerned, I’ll gladly look like a fool.”
David knew that although he was the king, he was still nothing but a fool. He knew his expression of worship was to and for God. David’s only concern was what God thought.
After the worship service I went to Bible Study. Our lesson was from Joshua 2. The truth of the lesson was that Rahab, a prostitute, expressed in words and actions her belief in Almighty God as she hid and protected the Israelite spies. She was obviously not concerned with what they might think about her. As a result of her faith in action, her family was saved and she eventually received a new identity as one of the few women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1.
Before leaving church I stopped at the bathroom. As I looked in the mirror I realized that I had completely forgotten about my peeling nose while I had been at church.
In His loving-kindness God once again reminded me that dancing through life for Holy God focused on who He is and what He thinks is the only way to have peace and joy and fulfillment. Who we are in Christ is the only image we need to maintain.
I want to stop with the Image Maintenance. I want to stop thinking about what you think about me. And the only way I can do that is to only think about what God thinks about me. He created me exactly like I am. I’m not a surprise, a disappointment, or an embarrassment to Him. He chose me and died for me. I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ. No image maintenance necessary.
“and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—”