A lot of people seem to struggle with their self image or their self esteem. You hear people talking about having low self esteem. It’s this sense that I’m not worth anything, I’m not as good as the next guy, I’m never going to be as good as the next guy.
And there have been times in my life when I’ve struggled with that too. I distinctly remember in my younger years when I was becoming an accomplished pianist, a musician and all my mates were into sports and football in this sports mad nation in which I live.
I felt so worthless. They could run and jump and kick a ball and catch a ball, hey I wasn’t good at any of those things, never have been. You can imagine the jibes and the ridicule. It only got worse when I joined the army and found that I couldn’t run as fast or as far as everyone else. Something for which I was almost kicked out of the Australian army officer training academy only months before graduating at the end of four years.
I remember this desire to be like everyone else, to be good at the things they were good at, and because I wasn’t I felt worthless. I’m joined again today on the program by my very special guest Barry Chant and this whole thing of self image is something he tackles in his latest book, “Living In the Image Of God”.
Berni: Barry welcome again to the program.
Barry: Thanks Berni, great to be with you.
Berni: Do you think that half the problem here is that the ideal image that the world dishes up, the thing that we should be, is kind of idealised stereotype of who we should be or what the world wants us to be is distorted?
Barry: Oh yeah, there’s no doubt about that. In fact my local newspaper has published this very interesting photograph of three models on the beach at Cronulla when they were sort of ‘off duty’. And the photo hadn’t been touched up and they did not look like models, they looked … there was a bit of a spare tyre around the waist of one of them and the other one’s looking a bit flabby. And you realise that before the photo usually goes to the public there’s a bit of doctoring airbrushing goes on to make them beautiful and ideal. And of course that’s how it is in the world. Everybody’s image or the public image is portrayed as one of the ideal perfect body or the perfect mind or the perfect whatever.
Berni: Healthy, wealthy and wise.
Barry: Yeah, so you’ve got this kind of a, this image of what the ideal person is like. And just by the way that’s one of the big problems with pornography because it does the same thing. It presents men and woman who are simply unreal and the women never get sick, they never have children, they always have a perfect figure, they never get tired and because the average bloke’s got a wife who isn’t like that. She’s a beautiful person but she’s got kids and she’s got a house to look after and she can’t live like that.
So there’s kind of this false ideal but having said all that there is a positive ideal of the fact that whether we are beautiful physically or whether we’re rich or what nevertheless we can still be beautiful in an ideal sense and we can still be wholesome and well and make a very good contribution to society, if we have an idea of what a good image really is.
Berni: Okay well let’s talk about that. In your book in tackling this whole self image thing you talk about developing a ‘faith image’. Now I have to tell you, that’s a term that most people wouldn’t have heard of before. What do you mean by a ‘faith image’?
Barry: Well the term self image is very common but the problem with having a good self image is you’ve got to start with a good self.
Berni: Well I’m okay Barry, what about you? (Both laugh)
Barry: And in our honest moments most of us realise that our self isn’t all that good if we have a really good look at us, I’m just talking about people generally. We all know we’ve let somebody down, we’ve lost our temper, we’ve harboured bitterness in our hearts, we’ve been lustful, we’ve been selfish or we’ve told lies. We look back we know that really ourselves are not that hot and so having a good self image is pretty difficult if you’re honest with yourself, if you know your self isn’t the ideal.
So the term ‘faith image’ is one I actually picked up from an American evangelist, Mr Roberts, who died three or four years ago and had a very big ministry in America. He used to use the term and I’ve kind of borrowed it from him which I have acknowledged in the book.
What he’s saying is if I look at myself as I am I’m never going to have a good self image but if I look at myself by faith, that’s how I am in Christ and how I can be in Christ. That puts a very different thing because I’m looking not in my own heart which is going to find some black spots and makes some very big ones sometimes, but I’m looking at Christ and His goodness and His perfection, His great love, the fact that He died for us, the fact that He was buried and rose again for us. Look at all that and the fact that He lives forever today and by His Holy Spirit which can change us, then I think wow, there is hope for me after all. I can be a new person; I can be different. And so by faith I see myself in that light instead and that just changes everything.
So when I face difficulties and I feel like maybe I’m going to go under again I say, ‘Hang on, by faith I can do this, by faith I’m a person who can overcome this’. And so the world might look at me as a failure but I say, ‘By faith I’m a success’. And the world might say I’m not able to contribute very much and I say, ‘By faith I can contribute something significant’. I maybe saying, ‘By faith I don’t have any talent’ and I say, ‘Too bad, by faith I’m still going to do something good for God and for people.
So it gives us a whole new motivation but it’s not just motivation because it’s based on a reality that Jesus Christ is real …
Berni: I was going to ask about that, what’s the reality of this faith image? Why isn’t this just double think?
Barry: Well because it’s based on the reality of the fact that the Bible says, when you become a Christian and you put your faith in Christ that His spirit actually lives within you. And so your image now is different because you see yourself not just as you are but as someone who now has the Spirit of God with them. So something’s happened, you become a new person. So you look at yourself in the mirror you see your physical person there but then you see there’s something more, there’s also the Spirit of Christ within you. And that Spirit of Christ within is what makes the difference and you say, okay by faith now I’m putting my trust in the Spirit of Christ within me to enable me to be the kind of person I really want to be.
This book ‘Living In The Image Of God’ is a revision of an older book which you may recall, the older book originally was called ‘How To Live The Kind Of Life You’ve Always Wanted To Live’ which is too long a title anyway. The whole idea was most people want to live a positive good life, they’d love to do that but most of us find we can’t. And so what I try to say in that book was by faith in Christ it is possible, you can live the kind of life your heart really wants you to live and that’s living in the image of God.
Berni: Where does it say that in the Scripture? Where can we find that in Scripture?
Barry: Oh all over the place. Jesus said that for a start, He said:
“I came so that you might have life and have it abundantly.”
Or live life to the full is another translation. So He specifically said He came to do that, to enable us to live life to the full, to live an abundant life and the Apostle Paul said:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Look, he’s not talking about making millions of dollars and everything, when he says ‘all things’ he’s actually talking about suffering. But he said, I can cope with it, I can do anything through Christ, I can overcome any problem, I can deal with any set backs through Christ. Again it’s not just mind over matter here, it’s saying, because Christ is real, because His Spirit is real, because His power is within me then I can do these things and I can live a positive, successful, fulfilling life that makes a good contribution.
Berni: Okay just quickly because we’re running out of time, there’s someone listening today who’s really struggling with their self image right now. They’ve heard you talking about this. How do they go about it? How do they lay hold of the faith image?
Barry: Well first of all you’ve got to admit that you’ve made a mess of things and that’s hard to do. A lot of us don’t like to admit that. But if you look at your life really honestly then you say, ‘Look I have made a mess of things’, it doesn’t take too long to do that. The Bible calls that repentance. You repent of the things you’ve done wrong, you realise they’re wrong, you change the way of thinking and say, ‘God I really messed that up.’
Second thing is you put your faith in Jesus and just believe what the Bible says about Him and what is historically established – that He was crucified, that He was buried and He did rise again – and you put your faith in the fact that He’s not a dead prophet, He’s not an idol, He’s not some vague philosopher but He’s a living saviour, a living person, the very Son of God who overcame death, who overcame the grave, He’s alive today. By putting your faith in Him you also can live a victorious life.
Berni: Barry thanks for that. Hey listen if you’d like to know more this is all in Barry’s book, it’s called ‘Living In The Image Of God’ and the easiest way to get a hold of one is go to www.barrychant.com I believe people can buy it there.
Barry: They sure can.
Berni: Barry thanks for your time today.