Image or Influence?
- Thursday, January 23, 2014
It’s not what you know, or who you know, it’s what you look like: image. Our world is driven by image. Television, cinema, magazines, celebrity – it all exists and revolves around image.
These days it seems that people are not famous for an influential position or role, but for being famous. Well known... for being well known. Reality television epitomizes this. To quote Andre Agassi, "Image is everything."
Image versus Influence
God hates image. The first of the Ten Commandments states, “Do not worship any other gods besides me.” And the second commandment, “Do not make idols (images) of any kind…you must never worship or bow down to them.”
When the people of Israel created and worshipped an image in the Wilderness, God became so angry he threatened to destroy them all. Jesus appeared to Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego in a furnace because they would not worship an image. While he walked this earth, Jesus criticized the Pharisees because of their image. He said to them, “You try to look like upright people outwardly, but inside your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:28).
On the other hand, Jesus implored people to be an influence. He said we are the light of the world, the salt of the earth. The light of our influence makes it a better place. Acts says that David influenced his generation. Paul and Silas turned the world upside down. Esther saved a nation. Jesus Christ saved the world. The common denominator: influence.
We were created for influence, not image.
Jesus is Influence
Can we escape image? After all, our world is one of image. It was formed as an image of Heaven. We are created in the image of God. Image is everywhere.
Even Jesus had an image. He healed the sick, cast out demons. Blind people could see again when they came to him. He hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors. He loved children, butted heads with the Pharisees, and often had huge “pot-lucks” after his meetings! He taught with confidence and authority. Compassion and love ever present in everything he did.
The image of Christ did not reflect what was popular or in vogue. He reflected his Father – to the point of perfection. For Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). In Matthew, Jesus declared, "Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect." His image did not change with fads and fashions, instead it changed from glory to glory.
The image of Jesus Christ attracted a following. Crowds would bring their sick to be healed. Many loved to hear his teaching. Rich, poor, tax collector, fisherman, prostitute, Pharisee, men, women, children – all were attracted to the image. Throngs of people sang, “Hosanna, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” because they loved his image.
But when the image hung on a Cross, the crowd was nowhere to be seen. When the image was crucified, it was crucified alone. Even his closest disciples refused to die with the image.
But years later they died for the influence.
We live for the Influence.
What will you choose?
Image lasts a lifetime, if that. Influence lasts for eternity. When you chase after image, your life will be empty, pointless, and selfish. When you chase influence, you fulfill your destiny.
Image is what we see. The Apostle Paul said what we see is temporary. Image is temporary, but influence is eternal. Ephesians tells us that God wants to do far over and above all you could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). When you can’t imagine it – that’s influence.
Stop being concerned with image. Be attentive to influence. Is your life creating influence with eternal ramifications, or is it an image that will blow over quicker than it began?
Influence is all about what you know and who you know - it has nothing to do with what you look like.
Choose to be the influence.
Sarah Coleman is an Australian author and communicator. Her books include Single Christian Female and Make Yourself Amazing. She is passionate about the Kingdom of God. She also loves being a wife and mother to two boys. To read more of Sarah's thoughts go to sarahcoleman.com.au.
Publication date: January 23, 2014
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