The issue of image is a serious struggle. It’s not only prevalent, it’s poisonous. Image emphasizes partial truths. Consider some of the narrow areas that often define a person’s image: relative success in a job, physical appearance, race, financial status, personality, gender, popularity, fashion sense, religion, role in a family, political affiliation, and much more. Most of us could be labeled in most of those categories with some level of truth. But we are more than our reputation before other people. We have many sides or “images” depending on our relational context and who is involved. It would be factually and even morally wrong for others to limit our actual identify to a few select sides.
For that reason, the second Commandment prohibits images of God (Exodus 20:4-6, Deuteronomy 5:8-10). Nothing in a limited world can capture His unlimited character. Even men and women, created in His image to disciple others in His image as benevolent co-rulers (Genesis 1:26-30), are now distorted because we’ve sought independence from Him (Genesis 3:1-6). In proper shame, we improperly try to hide sides of ourselves from each other and from God (Genesis 3:7ff) instead of seeking help and restoration. Toward that goal He lovingly makes our lives hard so we might call out to Him and depend on Him again. Notice how Genesis 4 contrasts Cain’s line of self-esteem in their own works and Seth’s line of God-esteem because of His grace. How does this relate to marriage?
Because God made us to live in His image, we can only know ourselves and each other more fully by to knowing Him through Christ, the perfect image of God and reconciler of souls (Hebrews 1:1-4). Discuss these narrow struggles of image versus the power of knowing the whole person of Christ.
- A couple married years ago in their physical primes of life. Now time has taken its toll on their bodies, but their careers are booming. They’ve traded much of their physical intimacy for professional duties. How might they view the account of Jesus and the lepers in Luke 17:11-19?
- Another couple has a stellar reputation as workers in their church with wholesome friends. At home, however, they are bitter towards each other. Which roles might they want in Mark 2:13-17?
- Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 is completely counter to a self-focused image. Read His message, and talk about the different sides of Himself that He reveals. In what specific ways would our marriages change if we loved in the ways that Jesus loves?
- God changed Jacob (“one who grasps the heel”, an idiom for “deceiver”), one of the most deceitful men in Scripture, and renamed him Israel (“he who wrestles with God”) in Genesis 32. Discuss this passage and 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 and the implications for marriage centered on Jesus.
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