The 2016 school year will see my son start his last year of primary school, or for what we old folk remember as elementary school. Yes, I know it is only July and I shouldn’t even be thinking of school at this time but I can’t help myself; time is just moving too fast. When complete, our daughter will be on her way to high school and our son to middle school. This means that Mitchell will be the last of our children to go through the primary grades and will be the end of our experience as parents at this level. As usual, I find myself in a reflective frame of mind. Thinking of the joys, victories, trials and friends both have made as they progressed through those years has me feeling blessed as both Christa and I are so proud of them. Thinking about the primary experience for our kids also has me remembering my own experiences in elementary school. Of all the memories one thing stands out and is the parallel for my message.
For those who may not know, I have a twin brother and it was grade 2 where we found ourselves in a new school and more than that, in a class with two other sets of twins. As if twins were not rare enough, we were in a class that now boasted 3 sets; a nightmare for the best of teachers I’m sure. Sean and Scott, Penny and Jenny, Mark and (I forget his brother’s name) in one class room. From what I remember our teacher acclimated well as there were really only 2 sets of twins in the room according to our classmates. My brother and I are what they refer to as fraternal twins as we look nothing alike. With the other twins in the class being identical, our classmates took every opportunity afforded to question my brother and I’s relation; whether we were really brothers at all. This is where the fun began for them and the trouble incurred for me.
It wasn’t too long into the year before I came home with a question that needed answering. Our classmates had stated their case, identical twins included, and my seven year old mind was convinced that baby switching was real and that this was the case for fraternal twins. The question to my mother the first time was as follows, “Mom, is Scott my real brother?” and then I would explain my classmate’s logic. The first time I questioned her on this she compassionately assured me that he was my brother and that they were just teasing me. After approaching the subject with her a few more times over the course of the year, each time more seriously than the last, my mom’s patience reached its limit. At the threat of severe discipline I quickly learned and accepted there was a difference; that fraternal and identical twins did exist.
The twin conundrum resolved, there still is the issue of looks that needs addressing. Even with limited exposure to the western culture one could quickly come to the conclusion that a particular look would be needed if one was to make it. Advertising has cornered this market to perfection it seems with many, young people in particular, pursuing an image or ideal not at all healthy and stands in contrast to our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. The suicide rates seen in our young people today speak to this. The above stated though, the reality is that we all do look like someone or something and if this is the case, it leaves me with the lingering questions of who or what should we look like? Is there an image we should be striving for as we live out our days here on God’s earth? With great encouragement I proclaim the answer to be yes and that it is found in the word of our creator which makes sense. After all, where would the creation turn but to the creator with questions of origin.
The issue of image is handled in scripture on two layers; one being physical and the other spiritual. As the truth soaks in, I find myself agreeing with what Andrei Agassi use to say in that, “Image Is Everything”. One thing is clear though when it comes to the image layers addressed, one is important while the other is vital. Genesis 1 v 26 states the following as it relates to the physical image:
“Then God Said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our Likeness;”
Hebrews 2 v 6 – 7, 9 & 11 state the following regarding Jesus, his purpose and our relation to him:
“But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor”
“But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”
We are made in the image of our creator! We look like him and though looks can often describe an individual, what incurs the most labels are our actions.
Actions are used most often to describe an individual, whether for the good or bad. Luke 6 v 45, Matthew 15 v 18, James 2 v 18 state:
“The good man brings food things out of the good treasure of his heart, and the evil man brings evil things our of the evil treasure of his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man.”
“But someone will say, “You have faith and I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.”
As it relates to image I feel God imploring us to emphasize the spiritual, the internal, as our priority. All through the word as well as history testify that youth is fleeting as we will all taste physical death. There is an eternal life or death situation that we will all face and it will be our actions that determine the outcome; an outcome of judgment that can be avoided in the grace found through Christ.
To me, one of the most powerful pleas Jesus’s makes is in relation to his actions and how they should be interpreted when considering who he is can be found in the book of John: 10 v 37 – 38. In dealing with the religious leaders of his day, those you assume would recognize Jesus as the Messiah immediately, as well as those of the region he states:
“If I am not doing the works of My Father, then do not believe Me. But if I am doing them, even though you do not believe Me, believe the works themselves, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”
Jesus implored those of yesteryear as he implores us today to look at his message and more than that, his body of work to see if they line up and then to make a decision. From there, our actions will identify us and from there judgment. For reference, I would encourage you to review Revelation 20 – 23.
To close I refer to the word doppelganger which is defined as an apparition or double of a living person. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me they had just seen my double somewhere or someplace. I often smile and state something to the effect that God must have liked the template. I can’t help but laugh when this happens as I really do have a twin but we don’t look much alike. In saying that though, there is someone I do want to look like. His name is Jesus and he is my savior, whose love in action paved the way to my salvation. It is my heart’s desire to look as much like him as I can and not so much in physical sense but in the spiritual heart sense. That what might be said of me would be similar to what God said of an Old Testament king named David in 1 Samuel 13 and referred to again in Acts 13. Oh that moment when someone sees me and the things I do and says, “Sean, you look a lot like someone I know. His name is Jesus.” and I pray that for you, whoever you may be. As I say to my kids every day in modeling Jesus, “Thought, Word and Deed”.
God Bless – Sean Bosse