Image Management: a Reflection on Psalm 74, Zechariah 1:7-17, Revelation 3:7-13 and Matthew 24:15-31
Beware of false messiahs and prophets? Who are they? Prosperity preachers? Those who cloak the gospel with the Democrat, Republican, Independent or Libertarian political, social and economic agenda? The self-righteous who purge the images of unrighteousness all the while not looking within? I am convicted how fear has motivated me to be a false messiah and prophet at times in my life. But I reject fear as a proper motivator. Having the correct denominational affiliation does not make me righteous. Declaring this or that as heresy or heretical does not make me righteous. Surrounding myself with the like-minded in thought, word and deed does not make me righteous. God, since the beginning, has been working salvation on earth. And, God is jealous for his people. What is seen in my life begins in my heart. Actions and words that look and sound righteous, but are clearly disconnected from my “being,” do not make me righteous. Hanging the “correct shingle” above my office or church building does not make me righteous. God continues to save me from the appearance of salvation. How smug Christians, conservative and liberal, have become. Jesus has no room for our biases of “image.” Followers of Jesus must keep his word; loving God and loving others as ourselves is the bottom line. And that cannot be done authentically without the personal acknowledgment that we need a Savior and have been saved. And that Savior is the Messiah of Advent; the one whom we prepare for and anticipate his coming again. That Savior is Jesus Christ. How humbling. I continue to need saving. So does the flock I shepherd. So does the denomination in which I serve. I am reminded that my image consciousness is the easiest way to deny Jesus. How much time and effort do you spend on image management? I see a lot of that going on within the community known as Jesus followers.
Scripture texts are taken from the two-year daily lectionary cycle which follows the liturgical calendar and begins on the First Sunday of Advent.