In today’s post, Lead Contributor, Mindy Pickens writes about what it means to be Image Bearers. You. Have. Got. To. Read. This.
You’ve heard it before.
You know, how it shouldn’t matter what you look like because God loves you and created you, and everything he makes is beautiful? Who hasn’t been handed that little gem of a platitude? Sigh.
A couple years ago, I was walking through my neighborhood and praying about this. I was jiggling and self-conscious in my work out pants and I got a little mad with God.
“I’m so sick of hearing everyone is beautiful because everything you created is beautiful. You know what God? That’s crap! Angler fish look like the spawn of Satan in the bottom of the ocean. They may be amazing, but they are *not* beautiful. Also, if everyone is beautiful then no one is beautiful because beauty can’t exist without its antithesis. Beauty is a comparative term. So, we’re NOT all beautiful. Some of us are, and some of us aren’t. Why isn’t anyone talking about how to live in this world when you’re NOT beautiful?! Beauty is everything in my culture, and it’s like the job of a woman is to do anything possible to be more beautiful. I hate it. I hate that I have to think about how my butt looks while I’m out here exercising and that I can’t just BE.”
Do I have any sisters out there? Can you relate to this feeling?
Here’s the faulty line of reasoning:
“God created everything including you. He is beautiful, therefore everything he created is beautiful and therefore you should believe that you are beautiful and love yourself.”
Let’s hear it again, but this time with our human definition of beauty:
“God created everything including you. He is comparatively attractive and physically appealing, therefore everything he created is comparatively attractive and physically appealing, so you should believe you are comparatively attractive and physically appealing and love yourself.”
Let’s try this reasoning instead:
First, God created everything seen and unseen (Gen 1:1, Col 1:16).
Think about the earth and universe for a minute. Nebula in space, electrons, worms that grow wings in their sleep and then fly away, the Grand Canyon, the first buttercups of spring, rain that freezes into incredible crystals and blankets the world with white silence. Mountains and grass, flowers and bees, carrots, oranges, grapes and wine. He creates and sustains it all, every moment.
Second, God created you in his image (Gen 1:27).
What does that mean? Oh friend, there’s nothing I want more in this moment, than for you to be pierced to the core of your soul with what this truly means!
When God created Adam, he didn’t look to the blazing beauty on the earth and pattern Adam after any of the glorious wonders He created. In contrast to the marvelous world and all that is in it, when God came to create man, he took conference with himself in the godhead. “Let us make man after our image, after our likeness.” The words for image and likeness mean “Something similar to” and “representative of” something else.
Everything God created says something about who he is, but ONLY humans are made similar to or representative of him. Only we share qualities, attributes, and capacities with him. The Father doesn’t have or need a physical body, but he still chose to image parts of himself into our nature as embodied beings. We are patterned after the Unseen, Uncreated, Supreme God over all. You are not just one of the many things God created, sitting at the top of the primate subgroup of mammals, insignificant, but on a priceless earth.
You are an entirely different thing from everything else in the whole universe. You are the pinnacle of creation because you are made in his image. Psalm 8 beautifully illustrates this; when I look at all the marvels you, God, have created, what is man at all? And yet you have made him only a little lower than yourself and crowned him with honor, and have given him dominion.
Third, God is beautiful (Psalm 96: 6,9).
But he isn’t beautiful like an underwear model is beautiful compared to me. There is nothing to compare him with.
He is beautiful like my daughter is compared to the sweet smilyface man she drew for me. I love the smilyface man because it came from her hand and mind and it’s beautiful for that reason, but it would be ludicrous to have her hold it up for me to decide which is more beautiful, her or it.
This glorious, incomprehensibly complex, astounding universe and everything in it is a smilyface man when it is stood up to the Creator himself. He is beautiful enough to put you on your face, to terrify you, to transfix you, to kill you, to make you cry, to awaken superhuman love, to lift you to heaven, to bow you down. There is none like him. None. None whatever. Everything he creates is beautiful, because it comes from his mind and heart, and he is infinitely above all.
Therefore . . .(I can’t even express the joy of this particular therefore). When I stand in my underwear in the mirror, when I grab my belly and try to estimate the number of loaves of bread I could bake from the dough there, when I long for the slender shoulders, sleek jaw lines, and shapely figures I see on television, I am blind.
When I accidentally see my face in the wrong side of my phone camera in my lap and I feel shame, I am blind.
When I don’t want to talk to my neighbor because I don’t have any makeup on and my hair looks horrible, I am blind.
Here’s the truth to myself and to you: You, as a human, are more beautiful than anything else in all creation.
You are more beautiful than a tree, a forest, a snowflake, a sunset lake, the crashing ocean. You are more beautiful than the savannahs of Africa, the Himalayas, the starry host of the sky, the jungles of Thailand, the untouched Arctic. Your body is incredible and made in the image of the Uncreated Creator, and he specifically hand crafted you so you are of infinite worth. Nothing on earth was patterned after God except you and your fellow humans. You are the most valuable and beautiful thing in the universe because you are patterned after the Lord and Sustainer of the universe. It’s an undisputable fact of scripture.
Here’s the corrected reasoning: God created everything. He created you. Everything He creates says something about him, but you are patterned after the Creator himself, and that literally makes you and your fellow image bearers more beautiful than anything else in all creation.
You are so beautiful, valuable, and precious as an image bearer that comparative physical appeal is simply irrelevant. It doesn’t matter at all. Despair and shame over comparison between image bearers is a great, sad, evil blindness on the earth. You are more beautiful than all the flowers, and the rings of Jupiter, you needn’t worry about your chin or your pants size. Nothing—no fat, disease, or disability could ever make you ugly. That’s simply not possible. You’re magnificent.
And who gets the glory? God, in whose image and likeness you are made.
Mindy Pickens a wife and mother who loves Jesus, her husband, their two daughters, coffee, books…and coffee. She spends her time homeschooling, tutoring in her homeschool community, and trying to figure out this whole home-maker thing. She’s a regular woman who is captivated by the gospel of Jesus Christ and is learning to surrender to the grace and goodness of God. Read Mindy’s other posts here.