What is self-image? Self-image is defined as the picture we have of ourselves based upon how we believe others see us and, of course, how we evaluate our own life. But Christians have the added dimension of a personal God to Whom we will give an account. Biblical self-image is rooted in how we think God is evaluating our lives. Because of a deep sense of shame, many deny themselves the forgiveness and blessings associated with Christian faith, for their self-image is marred by a dreadful sense of God’s reproach. We often compensate for this sense of unworthiness by trying to live a perfect Christian life, resulting in a greater sense of failure and defeat.
The following controversial passage has baffled Bible scholars for centuries: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12. The parallel passage in Luke 16:16 puts it like this: “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.” Do these words point to a forceful taking of the Kingdom of God by those who are pressing in?
We must not conclude that our unworthiness renders us unloved by God, but that it illustrates the greatness of His love, the depth of His mercy and the point at which we may, with all our hearts, praise Him and rely upon Him more than we ever did before. Force your way in, you sinner, you unworthy wretch, with all your failure and shame and low self-esteem. Violently latch on to what you do not deserve. Cry out to God with vehement cries. Press into God’s kingdom in the name of Christ who died violently for your sake. What else but foolish pride or love of sin would prevent us from entering in? We must abandon any sense of self worth derived from a life well lived. A life well lived is nothing more than another grace given by God to those who do not deserve it, who by brazen, brutal faith latch onto His righteousness and refuse to let go.
What others think of you or even what you think of yourself is overshadowed by what God says about you in His word (“It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” Galatians 2:20). You are the righteousness of God, created in Christ Jesus for good works (2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 2:10). These works you will do and are doing, but only as you violently press into the kingdom by pressing, through passionate, fervent prayer into Christ.