We have a role model crisis in our society today. We look up to the wrong image. We went from imitating people who made a difference in history with great character virtues to imitating half-drunk TV reality stars, whose life is a train wreck.
Where are the modern William Wilberforces and Martin Luther Kings? These were extraordinary people whose lives were a true testament of deep convictions, sincerely held beliefs, and fiery passion. These were men who had high standards because their role model embodied the ultimate high standards. Their role model was Jesus. Instead, we’ve grown used to comparing ourselves, by ourselves; and imitating people that are exactly like us but have money, fame, and power. Somewhere along the way we forgot true virtues and substituted them for temporary comforts and pleasures. So we became a cheesy version of our favorite celebrity, athlete, or politician less the money, fame, and power. As a result, we climbed the ladder of success just to find out that we were on the wrong wall.
We were meant to know God and become like him.
In his book, Crazy Love, author Francis Chan says, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t matter.” Francis is saying that to make our lives matter we have to invest our time and resources in things that are eternal. Money is quickly devalued, fame is fleeting, and power corrupts. Putting our trust in God and becoming like Him is our only hope. This is also how great men and women made their life count for eternity; they followed Jesus and not the latest cultural trends. Who we follow determines our ultimate destination and who we adore is eventually who we become. In Romans 8:29 we are told that God’s Will for our lives is “to be conformed to the image of his Son,” that is Jesus. Jesus is, “the visible image of the invisible God,” (Colossians 1:15). If you’re at a loss on how to arrange the puzzle pieces of your life, then Jesus is your picture. How do we do that? By “beholding the glory of the Lord (Jesus), (we) are being transformed into the same image” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
From the beginning, God created us to be in his image. But after the moral fall of men into sin, we lost who God created us to be. In doing so, we have pursued different passions and loves which led us even further away from our true identity. There is, however, a faint resemblance of God’s image in all of us. It serves as a constant reminder of the identity we have suppressed. To yield to this undiscovered identity is to rediscover the true passions of the human heart. Jesus came to restore our true image by imitating Him we are being transformed in who we were meant to be.
We were meant to have relationships with other people.
Jesus walked the earth for thirty years, and He lived in community with His disciples, family, and friends as well as other people. But even before that, Jesus has always been in community from eternity, and He will live community for eternity. Before coming on the earth, Jesus lived in the community with the Trinity. That is God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. God’s intend for the first human is to be in a relationship with Him and other people. God said to Adam, “It is not good that the man should be alone,” (Genesis 2:18). One of the greatest punishment for a person is to lock him in solitary confinement because we were not designed to live alone. God designed us to be in relationships with one another, to experience life together, to divide our sorrows and multiply our joy. To ignore this is to live in loneliness and isolation.
Some of the greatest moments of my life are not when I have money or lots of things but rather when I am surrounded by family and friends, and we enjoyed each other’s company. So why do we give up so much of our precious time trying to buy and gain things rather than spending it with people? Maybe because we lost our eternal perspective and we are only focused on the temporal comforts those things provide. But it is people who are eternal, and the time invested in a relationship has eternal benefits. So go on dates. Schedule time with that friend you can’t find the time to meet. Go on road trips with friends. Call and visit your parents. Forgive and love the people who wronged you. Reach out to that strangers, lonely neighbor, forgotten orphan or widow. Love people because God loves them and it is worth it.
We were meant to imagine and create.
We are told, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made,” John 1:3. Jesus is a creator. He was there at the beginning when everything was made. Jesus takes pleasure in creating things and so should you and I. Even Adam, before the fall, was entrusted with taking care of the Garden. He had to get creative in naming all the creatures in the garden. God knew the joy of seeing the work of our mind and hands. There is a great feeling of accomplishment when we get something done that we have created. That’s why to imagine something that does not exist and bring it into existence is the force behind any invention and innovation. So I encourage you to excel at all you do by developing your skills and talents. Study hard and work even harder. Imagine things and bring them into existence. Create and celebrate every accomplishment and milestone. You were meant to do that from the beginning.
We were meant to see beauty in the midst of brokenness.
In his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, author Oscar Wilde depicts the slow progression of the human heart into evil. He does this by illustrating it as a painted picture that has a special power to change into a true reflection of Dorian’s soul. The painting of himself is changing into a hideous creature while the real Dorian is unaffected by the consequences of his actions. Although we are created in God’s image, our image is tainted by the curse of sin. Sin dwells in every single one of us; it distorts and corrupts every motive and intention. However, there is a moral compass in all of us that constantly reminds us of the image we were meant to bear.
We are attracted to symmetry and overall aesthetics. We are created to see beauty, and any distortion stands out. There is also beauty that comes out of overcoming adversity. Nonetheless, what’s beautiful is not the pain or brokenness itself, but rather the healing process and the lessons learned. The problem is that sometimes we celebrate the distortion rather than the original image. I remember walking into my seventh-grade art class, and everyone seemed to stare at my face. I was embarrassed wondering what was going on. To make matters worse in the seventh grade any embarrassment threatened to erode at my popularity standing, so I cared. It didn’t bother me that everyone stared, but why they were staring at me. Later that day I ran into one of my friends, who was smiling and told me I should wipe the dry toothpaste from my cheek. There was something on my face that attracted the wrong kind of attention. No matter what it looked like that toothpaste did not belong on my face. I survived that embarrassing moment, but what would be worse is to see myself in the mirror and seeing the culprit toothpaste yet instead of washing it off, wear it as a badge of honor. Like the toothpaste on my face, I notice flaws in my character every day. However, this is a time to seek out and see what kind of character I was meant to have rather than calling it “being unique.” If I am selfish, that is not how I was created to be, and I don’t have to be selfish any longer. To celebrate the distortion is to miss the true beauty.
God created us with a beautiful heart and any sin, distortion or perversion of His original design affects our soul. So appreciate beauty wherever you find it. It is a glimpse of who God is and what the restored world will be. Consequently, look for beauty in the midst of brokenness, listen to great music, and watch great films, read great novels and poetry. Enjoy the beauty, but do not worship it because it’s only a glimpse, a note, and a sign of the ultimate beauty that is yet to come when everything is restored back to how it was created to be.
We were meant to see life with a supernatural and eternal perspective.
Where I work, we build amazing machines that soar at 35 thousand feet in the air. Airplanes, of course, can also navigate on the ground. However, they are awkward to maneuver on their trike style wheels. They were designed and engineered to blast through clouds at 550 miles an hour. If a pilot chooses to never fly the plane and just taxi on the ground, that pilot would never experience the joy of flight or see the beautiful scenery from high altitudes. The buildings and obstacles in front rather than soaring well above them would limit his view and perspective. We were designed to see life in light of eternity, anything less than that is sure to disappoint. So if you find yourself overwhelmed by life’s obstacles and troubles perhaps you have been facing them with you natural abilities.
We were meant to live holy and set apart.
Jesus walked among sinful people. He encountered them where they were. To some it seemed like Jesus came at the wrong time, to some He was in the wrong place and to some His whole mission was wrong. In God’s eyes, He was at the right time, at the right place, for the right mission. He healed blind and the lame. He hung out with all the sinful and broken people, yet he never compromised on who He was. Even when the enemy tempted Him, He still stood his ground. He could stand because he knew what He stood for. Jesus knew His mission, and that He was not like everyone else. He was God’s Son, the Savior of the world. He was the ambassador of heaven here on Earth, and He commissioned you and me to live holy and to be the ambassadors of heaven here on Earth. We are called to represent the kingdom of God in our sphere of influence from our families, friends, coworkers, and even strangers. So be the best at all that you do, you represent the kingdom of God here on Earth.