January 22, 2022
“If your hand or your foot causes you downfall, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet...”
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“If your hand or your foot causes you downfall, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes your downfall, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, rather than to have two eyes and be thrown into hellfire!” Matthew 18:8-9
History tells of scores of people who overcome severe physical disability to reach inspiring heights, folks like quantum physicist Steven Hawking or artist Joni Earekson Tada. Many of these folks’ contributions to society have proven invaluable.
In the days of Jesus, the disabled were considered outcasts, possibly demon-possessed. The religious leaders of Jesus’ time were too concerned with their images to risk being identified with (or defiled by) the disabled. Interesting, it was the “disabled” who received healing from Jesus…both the physically and spiritually disabled!
Image has always influenced human culture. People are still preoccupied with projecting an image that is bigger than reality. Why are we so afraid to simply be ourselves? In a culture that preaches, “image is everything,” is it any wonder that so many people are afraid to admit they need a Savior? Some folks would rather go to Hell with a good reputation than confess their sin and receive salvation.
The problem with projecting a false image is that you’re living a lie. It promotes fear and fosters anxiety because we will never measure up to the image! Even if people buy into the image, it’s not because they love you for who you really are. They love your IMAGE. I believe the most prevalent form of idolatry in the world is our worship of the images we create of ourselves.
Jesus looks past the exterior and focuses on the inside. First, He chooses to love us despite our spiritual deformities. Then, He offers to trade His righteousness for our corrupt flesh. He sees past our images and accepts us, not just as we are, but also as we WILL BE, once He has completed what He begins in us. No wonder His atonement is also known as His “covering.” He completes what our images could never accomplish. He covers the reality of our shame.
You receive the covering of Jesus by first admitting your sin. That is, you acknowledge the fact that you are not perfect. (Perfection is God’s standard and impossible to attain by our own merit.) Next, you turn from your sin and turn to face Jesus. (Jesus and sin travel in opposite directions.) Then, receive His atonement for your sin, His free gift of life. Simply pray, “Lord, I believe Jesus is the only Way. I accept His free gift of atonement. Now help me with my unbelief!”
Why spend your time and resources building an IMAGE of perfection when Jesus offers the REAL thing…for free?