Sunday, August 30, 2009

Image ...

Image is a funny thing. Unfathomable amounts of money are spent each year all in the name of image. Advertisers are always trying to present the "right" image of whatever product, company or person they are representing. Individuals seem to worry a great deal about their personal image, or at least what they think is their image.

What of the church, and those who claim to follow Jesus Christ? What image do we present? I have heard countless times of people telling me what they perceive the image of my church, and the people who attend the church, to be. (I don't think that sentence was grammatically correct, I hope you get the idea.) I have been thinking about this a lot recently, and wondering why some people have arrived at their perception of our image. Not just the church I currently pastor, but of all the churches I have been a part of and just churches in general.

Those in the church rarely see themselves the same way as those who are not a part of the church. Some of this is understandable, we will always have somewhat skewed views of any organization that which we are not participants. However, those not in the church tell us a lot of what image we are portraying to others. If they are who we are trying to reach then we need to pay close attention their idea of our image.

One common theme through the years has been "they (those in the church) think they are better than me (anyone outside of the church)." Another version of this is when someone says "I feel like those in the church look down on me, or don't accept me, because _______________ (fill in the blank)." I have come up with one reason that those not in the church have this image of those of us in the church. This is disturbing because we usually will say that we are not perfect, that it is because of God's grace that we are making it, etc ... But I believe we have created this image because we are quiet about our own struggles but we boisterous about what we are against.

I don't believe should compromise God's Word or our personal convictions, but that we need to be more open with our own struggles and less judgmental of the struggles of others. We need to exercise more compassion with those who do not agree with us. Not a pity, but a true love and desire to come alongside those who are not a part of the church, or our particular tribe of the church. Not a feeble, change with the tide living, but a true compassion and living Christlike in our world.

What image are portraying to those around you?

Here's hoping I will do better at admitting my own struggles and showing compassion with others who struggle in life. So that the image others see is Christ instead of me.


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