Imago Dei

Do you think you are beautiful? Has anyone ever told you that you are beautiful? Do you think of the beautiful person that God has created in His image; Imago Dei, in the image of God, as you?

Maybe you have and maybe you haven’t. Maybe you are struggling at this very moment to believe that you are beautiful. You feel ugly. You believe those feelings and you start to think along with being ugly, you quite possibly are unlovable. Maybe even God is disappointed in you. Others are beautiful, desirable, lovable. You might believe the lie that somehow even God doesn’t love you.

Maybe your parents even told you these lies. And you can’t help but find plenty of other people to hold up as the beauty standard; the lovable standard. The magazine covers and social media post that unashamedly use filters that are the goals according to culture. Maybe you were abused or objectified. You thought it was love, but it was just a short- termed lie. It left you feeling worse about yourself.

It probably started while you were young; when the people closest to you made comments that you took to heart. Comments that you believed about yourself. Or maybe it was abuse and you turned on yourself, hating what God had made. Your prettiness. Your handsomeness. You felt the blame fall upon you and maybe you tried to harm yourself. To make the pain and hurt go away.

I feel you. I get it. I’ve felt it too. The ugliness that I believed about myself. That I was not worth love. I was scarred from an accident as a child. It left me different than the others girls. I was also born with a birth mark. I hid my body. I was ashamed. I certainly did not think of myself as beautiful. I never heard it from my parents. Just once I remember overhearing a conversation my mom was having with someone and heard her say I was beautiful on the inside. Was that a complement? It’s hard to register as a middleschooler going through that awkward stage. it took me years into my adulthood before I could look into the mirror and declare that I was loved by God. The hurt and the wounds were deep.

What brings me to write this today was an article I read online from a Christian author. It was her opinion that we should stop telling women they are beautiful and focus on how we are all so fortunate that given our miserable state as sinners that God should even offer us salvation. She also added that we should stop telling the women at women’s conferences that they are special and loved by God. That to do so is all wrong and we should shift only to the spiritual elements of Christianity. This is not word for word of what she said, but the idea of it. She believed we are not so special. We should not feel we are. But, wait just a minute. Then why does the Bible speak so much of beauty?

To dismiss that we are created in the image of God is an affront to God. Read the first chapter of Genesis. God said His creation was very good. Body shame and the need to cover up came after the Fall, (Genesis 2:25, 3:7).

After the Fall, Adam and Eve looked at themselves and knew they were naked. They felt shame. They wanted to hide. This was the beginning of body shame and the beginning of death. Our bodies fall prey to old age and disease. And if you are older like me, you know this all too well. But we still try to cover up this aging process and look to make ourselves beautiful by the world’s standards.

I think that is what was troubling the writer of the article I read. Too much focus on the outward appearance and not meeting the world’s standard. But, for some people, myself included, we need to hear that we are loved and beautiful. It is not a sign of weakness. We all should be reminded that despite how we look, God finds us beautiful. He creates us and knits us together (Psalm 139). Some of us have scars. Some of us are born without limbs, or hearing, or sight. But. We Are Beautiful. And our physical bodies should not be treated with any contempt.

When we die, we will be resurrected in real bodies. Not floating, wispy, cloudy images. Jesus resurrected and has a real body. Read the end of the Gospels. He still ate with His disciples.

The Romans believed the body in its physical sense was evil. Women’s bodies were deemed worse than a man’s. It was a real shock for the early church in Ephesus to read Paul’s words that “Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies” Ephesians 5:28, NIV. Paul added that the husbands should care for wives as the husbands cared for their own bodies. The body as Paul reasoned was not bad and would be resurrected to new life, a belief the gentiles did not hold to.

Should we treat our own physical bodies as if they do not matter? Should we ignore the millions of people who want to hear that they are loved by God? That God has created them with beauty and they can look into the mirror with confidence that they are beautiful, despite their less then social media perfection bodies. and that they can agree with God that they are fearfully and wonderfully made by God and He declares it very good.

We should celebrate and Praise God for freeing us from sin and shame, even body shame. And celebrate that He did love the world so much that He sent His very Son to redeem it. We are in the world. He loves us. He declares that the physical body is worth redeeming along with the spiritual body. It is not bad; it is beautiful. You are beautiful. – God Bless You Nancy,

Death To Life

Doubting Thomas. Have you ever thought about how he would compare with you? It might seem like a strange topic for Christmas time, especially Christmas Eve, the day I’m writing this blog. But bear with with me for a moment. When we think of Christmas we mostly think about the cute little baby Jesus in the manger. And the cute nativity scene with the animals- sheep, cows, and camels. and the very peaceful baby sleeping in Mary’s arms. We don’t usually fast forward to Jesus all grown up as a man. We save that for Easter.

When we look at the Christmas story as told in the Gospels, we enjoy the story as a completed picture. We have the perspective that those living at the time did not. Except for Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wisemen, and John the Baptist. They all knew who Jesus was when he was born because the angels had visited or in the case of the wisemen, by studying the astrological charts. Everyone else around them, did not know what was happening. They were looking for a Messiah, but they didn’t see who He was when He arrived as the little baby lamb of God. They hadn’t read the gospels, like we have.

Sometimes God is trying to show us what He is doing, but we don’t see it. We lack perspective until we look back and see what He has done. The people of Jesus’ time had been awaiting a savior to free them from their darkness and when He came they did not all realize it, and as He grew to a man, even failed to understand who He was, calling him simply Joseph’s son.

As this advent season gives way to Christmas day, God has been preparing my heart and helping me to understand what He is doing in my life. Piece by piece, step by step, He reveals areas I need growth.

Recently, our beloved family dog died. It was the first dog we had ever had and she died unexpectedly early Sunday morning. My sorrow was deeper than I realized it could be for an animal. It brought back grief and sorrow that I still carry for my Mom who passed on Christmas Day 2014. Christmas can be a very sad time for some, myself included. But, as I was feeling so sad about losing our pet of six years, my thoughts and emotions were jolted in the opposite direction when on Wednesday my daughter and her husband announced their pregnancy. From death to news of life. In three days. Sounds like a familiar story, right? From feeling overwhelmed by the death of a pet, and my mom, to celebrating the upcoming addition to our family. From grief to joy.

God showed me in that moment, how I could be like doubting Thomas. He had just lost His friend, the man He had spent three years following and a presumed lifetime waiting for, like his other fellow Jews. And then He was gone. Thomas was in the middle of grieving and was in shock over the news that Jesus had risen. Jesus was not dead, but had resurrected. How could this be? Was it true? Is this really a change from sadness to joy?

Thomas wanted proof. He wanted to see for himself. Even when Jesus appeared to him later. It was Jesus who offered for Thomas to see the nail prints in his hands. I can finally understand how he felt. A bit of shock. A jolt from his grief into hope. Hopeless to hopeful.

I have a print of my new grandson or granddaughter’s ultrasound. I see him/her. I have anticipation for our meeting. On Sunday, I was grieving, but on Wednesday I celebrated. We just do not know what will happen next. God has it under control. It might seem dark now. But light has come into the world.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.– John 1:1-5

Merry Christmas and God Bless You