What makes you, you? Love or hate them, piercings, blemishes, acne and freckles are often just part of who we are. I have a small scar on my face which is a result of a choice I made as a kid. It’s part of my story and who I am.
This week Daylesford Secondary College made the news for its decision to have student photos airbrushed. Nose shapes were changed, acne and monobrows removed, as were piercings.
One student, Jackie Lipplegoes, said she was disappointed the photo did not “show the real her”.
“We paid for a photo to show how we looked in 2015, but this isn’t how we look,” she said. “Our identities have been changed and it doesn’t make you feel too good at all.”
Perhaps Jackie has reason to feel disappointed and hurt. There is pressure to look a certain way. An airbrushed photo suggests that we need to change you, or we don’t like you the way you are. You have to be perfect and we will hide your imperfection.
So often religion can be like this. We need to change you. Airbrush you. Conform you to look the way we expect you to look. It is hiding our blemishes from one another and ultimately God. But the message of Jesus is very different.
Jesus is not trying to airbrush us or simply change our externals. He understands that we are not perfect. Yet He is not asking us to airbrush our ‘imperfections’ and take on a persona of perfection.
In Romans 5:8, Paul declares a truth about God. It is, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
We live in a culture which is all too fascinated with persona, rather than substance. God is not interested in our pretending to be perfect, He is interested in who we are. Whilst we were still sinners He died for us.
In response He doesn’t ask us to airbrush our past or hide our scars. He asks for our humility. Our repentance. A willingness to come to God and say, this is me in all my brokenness, knowing that He knows the real you, and died for you anyway.