RECENTLY on the news, in back-to-back stories, a person being interviewed complained that violence had given her city a ``bad image,'' and in the next segment pundits speculated about how ``marketable'' the image of a particular office seeker was. It isn't uncommon these days for the word image to be used to mean the impression one wants to give others. We hear about a politician's ``public image,'' about ``image problems'' and ``image-making.'' And even though most of us aren't in the public eye as elected officials and celebrities are, we're daily bombarded with advertising and information that admonish or frighten or tempt us to alter how we appear to others by changing the way we dress, what we eat, how we talk, and whom we know -- all in the interest of making ourselves attractive. It seems we're living in an increasingly image-conscious age.
The word image actually means a perfect likeness of something -- like the impression of yourself you see in a mirror. That's the sense of image used in the Bible. And it is in examining the spiritual import of this word that we can find both the root of the trouble with image-consciousness and the way to be free of it.
The Bible indicates that God was, in fact, the first image-maker. The opening chapter of Genesis proclaims that He ``created man in his own image.''1 And according to this spiritual account of creation, God made but this one image -- man, male and female. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, observes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``The world believes in many persons; but if God is personal, there is but one person, because there is but one God. His personality can only be reflected, not transmitted.''2 So God is not simply the first image-maker; in a very profound sense He is the only image-maker. And the man of God's creating is the only true image.
Now all that may sound like nothing more than a curious theory or interesting wordplay. Yet it has been proved that man as God's image is the very truth of existence. The one who presented this living proof fully was Christ Jesus. Though Jesus never explicitly spoke of himself as the ``image of God,'' he acknowledged his nature as God's reflection by such statements as ``The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.''3 More than what he said, though, it was what and how Jesus lived that proved his true nature as divine image. ``For I do always those things that please him [God],''4 he once said.
The evidence that what he said was the truth was the healings he accomplished -- freeing others of plagues, blindness, disability, impending and even apparent death.
Jesus was image-conscious in the highest sense. His promise that his followers could achieve what he did says that we can become conscious of our native, spiritual state as the individual expression of God and we can begin to do so today. And we can manifest our true nature more and more.
The human image-creating of today may seem either a necessary evil or a fairly harmless exercise in pushing and pulling public opinion or rearranging appearances. But it is neither. For when we endeavor to alter the views of others for personal gain or satisfaction, we actually deny our real identity as God's reflection by assuming that man is a creator.
Real power and attractiveness come not as we try to sway ourselves or others to believe in man-made gods (or goddesses), but as we discover more of our true selves as God-made man. Science and Health says, ``Spiritual perception brings out the possibilities of being, destroys reliance on aught but God, and so makes man the image of his Maker in deed and in truth.''5
We have nothing to lose but a false sense of ourselves, and we have all reality and good to gain by willingly parting with ways of thinking and living that would make us manipulators of our fellows or blank slates on which human opinion may write its ever-shifting prescriptions for happiness. Expressing the purity, uprightness, wisdom, and love that are ours as God's likeness will bring our relationships into their natural state of harmony and enable us to know our heritage as God's image.
1Genesis 1:27. 2Science and Health, p. 517. 3John 5:19. 4John 8:29. 5Science and Health, p. 203. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48