The whole issue of looking perfect is pervading our culture and the effects are farther reaching than we first expected. I've felt it heavier on my heart within the last year or so and by the grace of God I understand that the world's vision of beauty is not real. That doesn't mean I'm immune to the effects of the lies though. Far too often I find fault with the way God created me and criticize the things that don't fit into this world's mold. It's perplexing to me why I'm beginning to feel this way at age 25; however, I only need to look around and see why more and more girls are feeling this way (including myself).
Books like 50 Shades of Grey, movies like The Wolf of Wall Street, and television shows like The Bachelor and Real Housewives run rampant. Sadly they are all considered "normal" now and not too many people bat an eyelash at the messages sent. (And don't even get me started on most of the songs played on the radio today!) Whether inadvertently or on purpose the message is the same: you must look perfect, or else. But what are we gaining, or should I say losing, from these lies?
Jesus taught a very important lesson on identifying false prophets. He said that we would know these false prophets by their fruits. Listen to His following words:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." Matthew 7:15-20
While we aren't talking directly about false prophets when dealing with the issue of body image, the principle Jesus taught here still holds true. Good trees produce good fruit and bad trees produce bad fruit. The messages being sent on body image today produce very, very bad fruit. Eating disorders, poor self-esteem, discontentment, vanity, fleshly desires and the like are common occurrences. The messages we get today are bad and therefore the fruit we are reaping is also bad; dare I say even evil? Yes, evil too.
Having the perfect body is an illusion, it's not real. Everybody is different and there is no one better than the other. God made us different for a reason. Even in the similarities between parents, children and siblings, there are major differences and that's a good thing! So why do we strive to all look the same and fit into the world's mold of beauty?
I love the first two verses in the 12 chapter of Romans. The apostle Paul is writing to the Roman church and his advice to them still rings true to us today. (Maybe even more so because of the all pervading lies currently embraced.)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2
The Bible doesn't tell us to make our bodies perfect by getting a six pack, avoiding wrinkles and lifting things that sag. (News flash our bodies will NEVER be perfect this side of eternity!) True beauty doesn't come from our outward appearance. Check out my third post in the series True Biblical Beauty here to see what real beauty is. The Bible tells us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. This means surrendering our bodies and presenting them to God.
The Bible also tells us not to be conformed to the pattern of this world and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This is the key to attacking and beating the lies fed today. You see the world has gotten beauty terribly wrong. It looks to things outwardly instead of things inwardly. And while there is nothing wrong with wanting to display outward beauty, it is not supposed to take up all of our attention.
Just today as I began to criticize things in my appearance that I would like to change in order to fit the world's mold, I made the choice again to appreciate how it is that God made me. I love my chin that protrudes a little because God fashioned it just like my amazing, compassionate and kind grandmother. I love that my back is wider than I would like it to be because it means I'm strong to lift and care for little children that the Lord places in my care. I also love my shoulders that round forward just a tad because that's just the way God made them.
I'm not perfect and neither are you. Even those who seem perfect are actually far from it. Our bodies are to be wholly surrendered to the One who made them. While it's not wrong to care for your bodies and even improve them, we must always remember that making idols out of them is not good either.
I encourage everyone to thank God for their bodies and to love them just the way He made them. Sure it's ok to exercise, primp and even dress up. In fact God likes it when we care for them in that way. But don't be conformed to the world's standard of beauty, rather be transformed in the renewing of your mind. Our bodies belong to God and God doesn't make any mistakes.
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