Every public figure has an image. On a regular basis there is a news story about some public figure where the image is found to not match the reality. No profession is immune to this disappointing and disillusioning event, be it politician, pastor, business person, teacher or whoever. It has been said, “You impress people from a distance but you impact them up close.”
Most of us would like to be a better person and have a positive impact on others, especially those we care deeply about. Why is it we so often can’t measure up to our own ideals? A big reason is that constant inner negative and self-condemning voice that focuses on our failures. We were created to be better than we are. Our daily life challenge is to make the reality of our life match God’s intended image for us.
The image of God and what it means
Genesis 1.26-27 tells us we are made in the image of God. Contrary to modern secular thought we did not evolve from lower life forms over millions of years. Perhaps you don’t believe this, but consider for a moment the implications of the theory of Divine creation. We are unique from animals and all the rest of the created world. Humans are the pinnacle of God’s creation, placed in the world to rule and care for it as God’s representative. God told us to subdue and have dominion over it. This means we are to unlock the secrets of the creation for the benefit of humanity. In this truth is found the concept of human purpose and significance. We are created and called to live on a higher level that benefits others, brings joy to ourselves and glorifies God.
The image is about personhood, morals and character traits such as holiness, love, and justice. The image of God means we are called to be the caretakers of creation, understand the theology of work and build loving relationships with our family and others. When it comes to God Himself, we are designed to worship, glorify and enjoy Him forever. Seeing yourself through this positive lens rather than just a higher evolved animal should create the desire to live life on a more noble level.
Silence the negative inner voice
If this is God’s grand plan for all of us, why the negative, self-condemning inner thoughts? Why do the lives of most people not reflect the divine reality? Christian theology would attribute this to the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. The secular humanist would chalk it up to environment or some version of the Freudian concept of the id, ego and superego. The id is the source of our instinctual drives dominated by the pleasure principle. The ego is our conscious daily thoughts and the superego is the inner voice at the unconscious level critical of the self or ego who enforces meeting standards higher than our instincts. Some psychologists would attribute the negative voice to poor attachment and nurture in the early years of our life.
The reality is most everyone has to some degree or another the negative, critical inner voice rooted in false core beliefs. It is constantly telling us, “You are unlovable, inadequate, not as good as others or will never succeed at anything, etc.” You may think you are the only one who struggles with the inner critic, but the reality is you are far from alone. The most competent, “has it all together” person you know struggles in some area with the voice and its negative tapes. How can we silence the self-condemnation so we can be transformed into God’s image and be the person we were designed to be?
When the image matches reality
Jesus attracted people by the reality of the life He lived. He lived what He taught unlike the religious crowd of His day. Jesus manifested a life lived in God’s image. If each of us lived our life according to the teachings of Jesus, think how this would transform our lives, homes, society and world for the better. As people we would be living up to our creation potential and higher calling. However, this will never happen as long as we listen to the inner negative voice.
How do we silence that voice? We do it by listening and believing God’s voice.
God tells us we are designed by Him for a life of purpose and significance. He tells us we are loved unconditionally by Him. He tells us we are worth so much to Him that He sent His Son into the world to pay our sin debt to restore our relationship with Him. He tells us He wants us to live with Him forever, and He would never leave us, forsake us or give up on us. He tells us He has predetermined to bring to pass His plans for each of us, and there is no way we can fail. He has enough grace and power to accomplish all things. All of these truths are stated in the pages of scripture. We must choose to reject the lies of the inner critic that have been planted into our unconscious mind. We must choose to believe God’s positive truth about us. This is not an easy process but it can be accomplished over time with God’s grace, the inner working of His Spirit and our intentionality and focused work. We can become the person God wants us to be not just in image but also in reality.
Dr. John Hawkins, Sr. runs Gateway Counseling Center in Boynton Beach along with his son John Jr. He can be reached by visiting gatewaycounseling.com.