Jump Start # 1939
Ephesians 4:24 “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
I saw on the news that there is a new smart phone being released. It’s very expensive. Apple is working on smart glasses. I was in the store the other day, and saw a bottle of water called “Smart.” Smart water. I started putting all of this together. A guy with a smart phone, wearing smart glasses and drinking smart water—you’d think he’s smart. It’s hard to drink plain water when there is smart water. Who wants to let others know that you drink “dumb” water. All of this is labeling, marketing and selling a product. It’s about image. We like image these days. It’s the days in which there is shiny stuff in the show room, but not much in the warehouse. The right phone. The right clothes. The right car. The right bottle of water. The right neighborhood. This translates to the right church. The right spouse. The right job. Image.
I’m one who gets caught up in this image craze. I wear Happy Socks. I wear bold ties. I wear cool cufflinks. That’s nothing but image. It’s a fancy wrapping on the package. There are a couple of things about image that we need to remember.
First, what’s on the inside is more important than on the outside. Our verse today stresses the new self that is holy and righteous. Those are qualities of the heart. They are manifested in our choices and behavior. Jesus rebuked the Jews for washing the outside of the cup but not cleaning the inside. The most important image is what’s on the inside. Substance, not the wrapper, is what we need to focus upon. A person can dress up in their Sunday best and sit in a pew during worship, but their hearts can be far from God. Their attitudes can remain sour and wrong. Their thoughts can be impure. It’s what’s going on inside a person that matters.
Jesus shows this in His sermon on the mount. It’s not enough that we do not kill others. Do we hate them on the inside? It’s not enough that we are sexually faithful to our mates. Do we lust after others? Inside and outside. The outside can look pretty good, while the inside is still a mess. Wearing smart glasses, with a smart phone and drinking smart water doesn’t make you smart. You can be dumb as a brick and spent way too much money for those things. Labels do not change who we are. It’s our hearts that matter.
Second, having things of image doesn’t make us better than others. If not careful, our image can turn quickly into showing off. “Look what I have,” also means, “Look what you don’t have.” Be careful. Don’t let image change who you are. Don’t get the big head because you have a new phone, drink smart water and have the latest and greatest things. There was a time when guys like to brag about their cars. Now, it’s the size of their TV screens. Bigger is better. If mine is bigger than yours, that implies I’m better than you. No. Don’t go there. Don’t think those thoughts. Image has a way of distorting values and killing contentment. Bigger is not always better. Newest and greatest isn’t always what one needs.
There are qualities of the heart that everyone gets the same way, through Jesus Christ. Kindness. Generosity. Faithfulness. Hard working. Dependable. Devoted. Spiritual. Forgiving. You don’t get those characteristics from having the right image. Drinking the right brand of water won’t make you kind. Having the newest phone won’t make you dependable. It’s spending time in the Gospels. It’s looking at Jesus. It’s having an open heart Name dropping, image wearing and being a trend setter catches our eyes. It doesn’t the Lord. I really don’t think Jesus cares what kind of socks you wear. I doubt if He even cares if your socks match. He probably never wore a pair of socks in His life. What he cares about is what those socks are doing to your character. Do they make you uppity? If so, it’s time to get rid of them. Do you put your hope in those socks? If so, time to get rid of them. Do you feel that those socks make you a better person? It’s time to get rid of them. We ought to be who we are because of Jesus, not the socks we wear, or the brand of water that we drink.
What impressed Jesus was faith. There are just a few times in the Bible when the Lord “marveled.” That word simply means, “WOW.” It wasn’t the size of the boats, the outfits some were wearing or how fancy things were. The Lord was impressed with faith. Faith that wouldn’t stop. Faith that overcame great odds. Faith that stood face to face with doubt and won. That’s what Jesus saw. He saw poor people who had great faith. That impressed Him.
There is a lot of image stuff even down at the church house. It’s ok if one is trying to put forth an attractive means of showing the Gospel. Color bulletins, large church buildings, fancy powerpoints—all have their place if there is some substance under the surface. These are merely tools to get people to Jesus. If we think we are better because our bulletin is in color and yours is not, we missed the point and are now travelling a dangerous direction. What’s in the bulletin? What’s the point of the bulletin? That’s the questions to be asked.
We live in a world of image. Every product is about image. Every show on TV is about image. Look the best. Shine. Sparkle. Impress. It catches our attention and our eyes. But don’t think you are less because you do not drink the right water, have the right phone or drive the right car. You are made in the image of God. Your soul is so valuable that Jesus came and died for it. Your value is not in the superficial image but in the heart and soul. This is what God cares about. This is where you shine the brightest.
Let your light shine, isn’t about image. It’s about substance. It’s about doing things. It’s about pointing people to Jesus.
Don’t lose fact of what is truly important in life. Don’t confuse image with substance. Don’t be guilty of washing the outside but neglecting the inside. Your heart is what matters to God.