God started my day off with an eye-opening revelation given to Kim on image and how it plays not only into day to day life, on a person to person level, but also on a much bigger scale where religion is concerned in today’s world.
Webster’s Dictionary defines image as “a person or thing resembling another person or thing.” Let’s look at that a little closer. How often do you go out to eat, to the mall or even to work and you see the people around you who have spent a great deal of time and money creating an image that reflects someone that they’re not? Maybe it’s a famous athlete, musician, model or TV star that they’re trying to be like, but regardless of who it is, it isn’t them. TV has become a huge medium for selling ads that promise for 3 Easy Payments of $19.95, you too can look like the stars!
What about you? How many times do you look in the mirror and wish you could be, act or look like someone you know? Maybe the person you wish to be is a really gifted athlete and you have two left feet; maybe they have a great build and you’re a little on the frumpy side. Perhaps they have a gifted intellect and you’re not quite as quick; or they present the “bad boy” image and you, in comparison, are more the mouse. Whatever it is that you don’t have, do you accept what God blessed you with or do you try to be something that you’re not? Do you make the most of what you do have or are you always focusing on someone else and who they are or what they have while burying what and who you are?
God created us to be unique. Just look at the leaps we have made in DNA research. Every single person on the planet has a genetic marker that is absolutely different from anyone else. So many people spend so much time focusing on the things they feel like they’re lacking that they don’t look at the wonderful things that they do have. All too often, we let Satan rob us of things that God gave us and it prevents us from becoming from what God intended us to be. The Lord gave us exactly what we needed to fulfill His purpose for us but it’s up to us to see clearly who and what we really are … and embrace it!
I’m reminded of the Scripture about “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Image is a lot like that. If we are constantly hiding from ourselves we are, in turn, giving false representation to others. Sooner or later, a moment of truth will come when the people around you will expect something from you based on what you present and it won’t be there because it’s not real! The mask of who you’re pretending to be will crack. Search within yourself and ask God to show you the truth of who you are and why you’re here and He will. What you find may not be your image of ideal, but let’s face it, your image is easily skewed by the world. Being/getting what you think you want never quite equals what God wants to give you.
On a bigger scale there is the church and religion as we know it. As I get deeper into the ministry that God called me to and as he reveals more to me, I look around and see that there are churches out there that are suffering from the same “image crisis.” In some cases, I’ve seen image and “political correctness” overshadow the foundation of truth and righteousness.
I don’t want you to get me wrong here – I’m not condemning the church. I’m simply asking you to honestly look at the state of the church today. So much separates us in church and we allow it! God made each and every one of us and church is supposed to be about fellowshipping and worshiping with one another, yet we divide ourselves by denominations, politics, gender, race and socio-economic backgrounds. Is this what Jesus intended? Is this state of disarray what He taught and gave His life for? The bible clearly says we are The Body of Christ (Romans 12:3-8).
Why do we have so many divisions within the Body? Why do my tattoos, my long hair and my rock music ministry make me an outcast, shunned in many cases by a majority of the churches that I visit? I’m a Christian and a Pastor, yet they never quite get to my walk because they can’t see past my image. Colossians 2:8 (ESV) says “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” So tradition is what makes me an outcast?
I’m not egotistical enough or vain enough to believe that everyone will like the music that we play. People have different tastes and I understand and appreciate that. What moves me may not move you, but the bible says, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord” and it doesn’t qualify that with “as long as the people around you find it traditionally acceptable.” Psalm 66:2 (ESV) says “sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise!” If my music does that (which it does) then I have been obedient.
Sadly, during our journey, Kim and I have heard all too often comments like “That’s not God’s music! That rock music belongs to the devil!” from the folks who think any electric guitar or drums automatically makes music evil. From those who accept the music itself, we’ve even heard things like, “You need to wear long sleeves to cover up that tattoo because that’s not the image we want our leadership to present to our congregation.” That particular comment came in the middle of July, in Georgia, where the temps were in the high 90’s with humidity of 80-90%! So much for Paul’s writings in 1 Cor. 12:12 calling us all “one body.”
I am just like you … I have problems, I suffer, I hope, I dream and I sometimes fear. My appearance and image isn’t for effect – it’s who I am and it all (even the long hair and tattoos) has been a part of my journey. My appearance is part of my testimony and my scars show you who I used to be and the man that I have become. I choose not to hide that because my journey, just like yours, hasn’t been easy. Why should I try to dress it up and make it presentable in order to not offend anyone? If I had short hair and wore a three-piece suit that covered my ink, would you honestly believe that I’ve come through life unscathed? I have lived a full life and I’ve made both good and bad choices in my time here. My journey has been one of tragedy as well as triumph. God saw fit to reach out to a broken man and not only heal me, but fill me with a purpose! He blessed me with the talents to fulfill that purpose and my image has no bearing on that fact other than to give credence to what He’s done in my life. The church, in my opinion, should be taking advantage of the tools that God has given it to further the body instead of being so caught up in image that it hinders the growth of the body itself.