You cannot avoid the culture in which you live. You walk out the door in the morning and find yourself in the battle of status, stereotypes, and sexuality. There is competition in the air, especially when you walk into an event, your school, or your workplace. Competition is something I absolutely thrive off of, it isn’t bad, it is actually healthy as long as you see it as a pursuit of excellence and not perfection.
The daily competition of being a single girl in the culture I live in is fierce, then add being a Christian single girl and that is like swimming in a straight line opposed to an ever-changing current.
I wake up, get dressed, do my hair and makeup and then step outside into a battlefield of stereotypes. Image is something that is very important for my generation. Social media is the way we express the image we want to portray to the world. That image might be artsy, adventurous, athletic, musical, etc. Whatever your thing is, is what marketers like call your “niche”. We literally market ourselves to reach our desired audience. We desire for others to look at us. Obviously, we can't not be looked at, God made us with an image. In fact, He made us in His image.
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
But what are these people seeing when they look at me? Is it me being truly authentic? Or am I trying to make myself appear something that I'm not? That is the question I want to encourage you to think about as you keep reading.
im·age - ˈimij - representation of the external form of a person or thing in art.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
There is a popular way people want to appear. If they look that way, they will automatically get more attention, and who wouldn’t want that attention if our whole culture is based on that? The way we dress, the way we talk, and the way we walk into a room are us emitting an image. So what is the image that God wants us to portray since we are made in His?
The topic of modesty in the church and in general is seen to the people of my generation as a way to control women by making them cover their bodies, but modesty is so much more than that. Modesty in the Bible is defined differently than we have come to understand. It is described as one being respectable. Honoring in both appearance and attitude. It is not covering yourself up so that the only bit of skin people see is your face. It is simply taking into consideration the value of others and your ability to contribute to their wellbeing by honoring them through the way you dress and your attitude towards them.
We are His ambassadors. We are the image of Christ to the world. How are we going to represent Christ to the world? In fact, our job as believers is to represent God well and to carry His name well as image bearers.
1 Samuel 16:7b
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
We read this verse and see only the part of 'the Lord looks at the heart’, and He certainly does. We also need to recognize that man doesn’t see the heart. The man looks at the outward appearance. Humans see us for the image we bear. Sometimes I wish that all others would see was my heart too, but at the same time, would I want them to see that either? So I would encourage you to think about what image you are presenting to the world. This is the time in history where our image as ambassadors of Christ has the opportunity to be most widely recognized by the world. So is your image authentic to you and your relationship with God? Will they see Christ in you or just you?
If you are a representing Christ well, amazing! There is always an inner battle that we are constantly going through, so never will we be completely perfect, but we can set an example for other believers to live a life of excellence. Not being unapproachable, but carrying the love and image of God so well that others will just want to be around you because of the peace you carry amid the chaos.
And if your authentic image is something that is ugly to you, ask God to search your heart and reveal to you those places in your life that need to be changed.
How you are going to show God to the world is a daily decision. Let your authentic be something truly beautiful.