Self-image is the hardest thing to come to terms with.
We all know we shouldn't be so concerned about it. We all know we shouldn't find our worth and identity in the things we do or the way we look. We know that. But sometimes it's hard to believe something, even if you know in your head that it's true.
I struggle all the time with it. I try to build my identity around everything material and worldly. I want to find all my worth in Christ alone, but it's so hard because His approval doesn't give us the same thing as human appraisal.
But maybe that's a good thing.
When we primp and try to look good for our fellow finite humans, we may get a compliment. Then, for the moment, we feel good, but the satisfaction doesn't last. I know from experience. People may praise your looks. Your weight. Your talents. Your accomplishments. People may comment on any number of things to make you feel flattered and confident. But I can almost guarantee that the feeling of satisfaction will only last until you see someone more beautiful or more talented than you.
But does God choose His servants based on their jeans size? Is that how He picks His followers? Praise God that it isn't! A king chooses his servants according to their character, integrity, honesty, loyalty, attitude, and faithfulness. The last thing that matters to him is the size of their jeans.
Mark 8:34-38 - Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Read verse 38 again: "If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
It's not a lighthearted statement. In these dark days when truth-seekers are rare and righteousness is being perverted, we need God more than ever to purify our hearts and minds and to set us straight. Yet, even with that knowledge, we are shy. We act as if we are ashamed of the Gospel. But if we neglect God at the times when it matters- when our faith is actually put to the test- then we disown our Saviour and trample on His message.
We are proving that we care much more
about the applause of the world than
for the approval of our King.
If He were an earthly king and we, His so-called 'servants' disowned Him, we would most likely be publicly executed. People who choose to follow kings are proud of it! Not embarrassed!
When Mark says that Jesus will be ashamed of us when He returns, I can't get that picture out of my mind! Just imagining that day sends shivers down my spine. The splendour and majesty of the King of Kings on display for all to see. No doubt, all the people of the earth will fall face down in awe. And you and I will be kicking ourselves for every time we ever denied Him. I can picture His loving eyes gazing like fire straight into my soul, and His reverberating words shaking my very substance: "I AM!"
If we were able to see Him like that all the time, who would ever be able to betray Him?
Yet we still do. Often.
Even though He is here with us every minute of every day, we still deny Him. Every promise we break, every lie we speak, every confidence we betray, every rumour we pass on, every injustice we ignore, He sees it all. Every little compromise puts us right in the shoes of Peter who denied three times that He ever knew the Lord.
If we are ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of us. The mere thought of disappointing God is enough to melt my heart. He saved me. He gave me hope. He is my Father. Is there any reason to be ashamed of Him?
We're more scared of the corrupt opinions of finite humans than the everlasting judgment of the Lord of the Universe.
Romans 1:16 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.