What is the Image of Absolute Perfection?
What do you see when you look into a mirror? Do you see the reflection of God’s lovingly crafted masterpiece? A person knit together (Psalm 139:13) to be a vessel for God (Acts 9:15)? Or do you focus on every little imperfection that’s visible to your eyes?
You know what I’m talking about: Pimples? Wild hairs? Baggy eyes? Wrinkles? A crooked nose?
Imagine looking into a mirror and not obsessing over every one of those little imperfections. I’m not suggesting there’s ever a moment where they aren’t there, rather I am picturing a reality where they do exist, and yet, they don’t hinder the understanding of exactly how God sees us.
Imagine it: A person standing there, peering into the mirror, and they’re looking just like you. One who is capable, qualified and fully prepared. No awkwardness or insecurities. No inhibitions. Just the awesome you built by an even more awesome God… the master craftsman who created you in his own image.
Now, with that awesome and amazing image, and understanding in mind, imagine that mirror suddenly cascading into a broken web of cracks and shards (queue the sound effect and sinister music here). That perfect and powerful self-image is now fragmented into a countless array of millions – no ga-zillions – of miniature images. Each one of them is displaying a part of that awesome you. But, not even one of them is the fully unified and lasting image we had in our minds just a few brief moments ago.
Life on earth has carried that broken image since the fall of man in Genesis 3. That’s how quickly and how dramatically absolute perfection was stolen.
Here’s the Good News About Your Fractured Image
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10
Even as a massive set of fragmented – or broken – pieces, God still sees you as his masterpiece. And he’s lovingly restoring you with every moment of every day. Piece by piece. He’s gluing fragments back into their proper places, smoothing over the cracks and buffing the beautiful scars that remain.
God’s refining and restoring you!
There are many examples carrying this image of restoration throughout scripture. Think specifically of the lives of Joseph and Moses. Think of Job. Think of nations like Israel and Samaria. Of course, in none of these examples is there instant restoration. There was a progression. A preparation. A purpose behind every moment.
In fact, let’s look to the life of Jesus as an image of life restored and the progression and purpose that led to it. Jesus was born to be king of kings, yet he was born into a life of poverty. He was oppressed – never mind the ridicule that came with being born a child of wedlock. He was sentenced to death by crucifixion and yet, he rose – a life fully restored into absolute glory as the king of kings.
God is also restoring us!
David no-doubt knew the restoring power of God when, in Psalm 51:12, he cries out: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
God’s promise of restoration also rings true in Jeremiah 30:17 for the restoration of health, and in Ruth 4:15, for restoration of Naomi’s life after the passing of her husband and sons. And when we look at Joel 2:25, God says: “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.” That tells me that, even in the midst of our most troubling times, our time is not wasted. We are being prepared and refined for so much more.
I have spent the better part of my life trying to live by the well-known motto of attempting to be a better version of myself every day. I fail on many days. I am human after all. But that does not stop my quest and pursuit. For the last several years, in fact, I have focused on intentional pursuit of living a “refining life, on purpose.”
That refinement is guided by the Holy Spirit and that purpose is continual growth as a follower of Christ. But it’s not just a matter of working on my own affairs. I pursue a refining life, on purpose, while helping others pursue victory in this same race.
You see, we should do more than seek restoration for ourselves. We are told to pray for and seek restoration of our brothers and sisters. Look no further for evidence of this than Galatians 6:1, describing the role of the church body for those in sin: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
The Image of Perfection Still Exists
Yes, the mirror is in shambles. Shards are scattered and getting the whole image of your restored self may seem futile and unlikely. Yet, we serve an amazing God, to whom nothing is impossible.
I pray this message has met you in good health and lifted your spirit in some manner. As we run this race, there are going to be times of grief, suffering, doubt, turmoil and all sorts of cruddy sentiments. There’s going to be times when the healed cracks in our mirror resurface. There’s going to be times when we notice imperfect scars.
Yes, absolute perfection has been stolen, but the image of it is everlasting. Remember, as it says in Leviticus 25:13, “In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property.”
Chad Gramling has attended St. Andrew EPC since 1995 and has served many roles. He makes his home in auburn with his wife Jennifer and their three daughters, Daphne, Stella and Amelia. He’s also the founder and primary blogger at 1Glories (1Glories.com), a vision cast onto his heart and detailed in his book, Listen Up Kids: Foolish Dreams, Syncing with God & Running to Win, which is available on Amazon.com.