Date: Friday, December 20
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:42-49
Verse: Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:49)
The people at Dove, the soap and beauty products manufacturer, recently commissioned a forensic artist for an interesting experiment they called “Real Beauty Sketches.” From behind a screen women described themselves to the police sketch artist, as they would if they were eyewitnesses to a crime. Then, someone they had just met was brought in to describe them, from which the forensic artist made a second sketch. The differences in the sketches are remarkable (see this powerful video embedded below), highlight the distorted view of ourselves we often have. One of the women says, “It impacts the friends we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children — it impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to our happiness.” She is onto something. How we see ourselves impacts how we live.
This goes far beyond physical appearance to who we are as people. Imagine being a subject of this experiment describing who you are. Gil Zamora, the forensic artist for the experiment, is quoted as saying, “Whatever facial issues they have — whether it be a mole, a scar — the random stranger would look past that and look at the beauty of the women” (this New York Daily News article). In a completely honest moment, maybe in a journal no one else would see, if we were to describe ourselves, we too might overstate the flaws, point out the many ways we come up short of the people we believe we could/should be. Now imagine the other person describing you is not a stranger, but God – the one who loves you so much he came in the person of Jesus to die for you. What would he see? My guess is that my sketch and God’s would be vastly different. God’s sketch would be better, much more flattering.
Today’s scripture lesson tells us we bear two images. One is of the first Adam and the other of the second. One is the fallen, broken, sinful humanity we are; and the other is the image of Christ living in us. Our task as Christians, is to live into the second image – to allow Christ to live in and through us. In his “Hymn for Christmas Day,” which we now know as “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing,” Charles Wesley says it well in a verse which is not in the current United Methodist Hymnal:
Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the New-born king!”
Prayer: Give me eyes to see myself, O God, as you see me. And the courage to live into that image rather than the sinful one I see. Amen.
Action: Take some time to go through the exercise of describing yourself as you see yourself, then describing yourself as you might imagine Jesus describing you – the “new Adam” image.
Respond: How does our view of self impact our lives? Would believing a better story about yourself change you? Has it? Answer by clicking “Leave a Comment” below.
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