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,