Is Image Everything?

by Impact Church

“Everything they do, they do to be seen of men…”
Matthew 23:5 (NLV)

If you are a sports fan, you may have heard in recent weeks that two of the biggest names in golf — Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy — are looking for new clubs.

Nike, which has supplied these guys with their playing equipment in recent years, has announced that it is scrapping its production of clubs and balls because sales are “underperforming” in the market sector compared to competitors like Callaway and Titleist.

What’s interesting is that Nike isn’t leaving the links altogether. To the contrary, the multibillion-dollar company intends to expand its ubiquitous swoosh logo’s visibility by sponsoring more PGA pros,…but only with its clothing and footwear lines. And the sports giant apparently decided to “just do it” after rival Adidas earlier this year put up for sale its golf-equipment brands of TaylorMade and Adams.

devo(Photo credit: Associated Press)

So what’s the point? Well, one might infer that appearance is more important than performance. Consumers apparently are more than willing to spend their hard-earned dollars to look like Tiger and Rory even if they’re not willing to try to perform like them in making birdies.

Seems like the old PGA Tour adage could be updated to “Drive for show, putt for dough,…but dress to impress!” (Or the Fifth Avenue hucksters might change “These guys are good!” to “These guys look good!”)

Just as in athletics, the religious realm is no stranger to posturing for the public. When it came to image management, the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day were the pros at looking good. But the Master lashed out with laser-like intensity by repeatedly calling them blind, foolish hypocrites: “You are like white-washed tombs, which look fine on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all kinds of rottenness.” (Matthew 23:27, Phillips)

Whether that stinging statement makes you laugh or wince, remember that Jesus directed those darts at the religious leaders of God’s chosen people. They looked every bit the part, knowing and keeping the letter of the Law better than anyone. If Nike had originated in the First Century, these guys would have been sporting a swoosh on their robes for sure.

But the Savior has zero tolerance for those who play to the crowd rather than the pleasure of the One who created them. Maybe He had that in mind when He cursed the fig tree in Mark 11. It looked good from a distance, so why did Jesus doom it to barrenness? Because it was green and leafy, but it bore no fruit. The purpose of the fig tree was not to produce nice foliage, but to yield figs. The Pharisees were representative of the nation of Israel as a whole. Religious, but not spiritual. Self-righteous, but not trusting in the Redeemer who came to make them holy.

May we be always mindful that our purpose on earth is to bring God glory by producing fruit that points to our Lord. We can accomplish that only as we allow Christ to live and love through us!

In our service for God, let us continually examine our hearts to make sure our motives are right,…that we are acting out of love rather than an attempt to make ourselves shine in the eyes of men.

We who live in North Carolina need look no further for inspirational instruction than our state motto: Esse quam videri (Latin for “To be, rather than to seem”). May we as believers never forget that our God equips us with everything that He requires of us. Because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we can actually be like Jesus Christ. Indeed, as we at Impact Church have heard for several weeks now, “as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).