Image Deficit

18 08 2010

I was listening to the news last night; updated reports on the flood in Pakistan and an interview with an artist who is writing a song to draw attention to the disaster there.  The commentator said that Pakistan has not received equal media attention, nor an outpouring of aid like, say, Haiti, did. An article I read also refers to this issue and calls it an “image deficit.” Denoja Kankesan writes,

“We often note an image deficit with regards to Pakistan among Western public opinion,” said Elizabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman at the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The idea of having an image deficit interested me.

In the big world, and in our small ones, image makes some people insiders and makes others outsiders. Image rewards one and oppresses another, gives to one and takes from another. Even though “image” is incredibly subjective, we give it the power to define acceptable and unacceptable, in and out, and (this should make us shudder) lovable and unlovable.

In our small worlds, one child loves school because they are popular, another one hates it because they can’t make a single friend. Is the contest so different on the larger scale? Are our governing bodies more inclusive than the kids in the schoolyard? Image, apparently, means that one person receives aid, and another will languish without it.

Right now British Columbia is dealing with a boat-load of Tamil migrants from Sri Lanka; we have not put out the welcome mat, let’s just say; we are suspicious of them. We think terrorists are hiding in the mix; maybe the whole lot of them are bad. And what will we do with them? You’d think we were tight on space here in BC. That’s laughable. It must be hard to be Tamil. You might be a father with a wife and a child who just wants a job, but first you have a mountain to climb because you have a serious image deficit.What if our first reaction was empathy and our second was discernment? What if we asked how these people might bless our province instead of assuming they will curse it?

What is commanding my heart in all of this is that the Person I am modeling my life after vehemently protested anything that hinted of image deficit. He made a point of dining with people who had massive image deficits; He looked for them; He loved spending time with them and chatting it up with them. There was no touchable and not-touchable to Him. There was no desirable and not-desirable to Him There was no lovable and not- lovable to Him.

Jesus spent his life bringing good news to the poor. He proclaimed freedom for prisoners. His message was about recovering our sight, and He did so, literally for those who were physically blind, and He did so internally for those of us who were blind inside. Jesus was about releasing people from the oppression of image deficit and to declare God’s favor for everyone; everyone! (see Luke 4:14-28)

The thing that should be outstanding about me is this kind of acceptance. God never placed the burden to judge others upon me.  He never asked me to fix everyone’s behavior. What He asked is that I would share the news about the freedom He offers, with love and respect for all. He asked me to hold up His Image to remind us who we were fashioned after.

That isn’t to say He never called me to discern right from wrong when it comes to my own life; He did.  I am to conduct my life in a way that honors God’s boundaries, set in place for me with the desire to protect me and guide me along a right path. In relationship, in community, we are also to try to rescue each other from our destructive tendencies,  in a way that is bathed in love; absolutely drenched in God’s Spirit which desires that none would be lost.

Can we love like that? God, can I? Can you remove that pin that keeps jamming my ability to just see people as You do, without any image deficit? Your Word calls me to, “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy…” (Psalm 82:3-4).

When we gather as Christ-followers, can this “church” be free from image deficit? Can we eliminate the “cool and the uncool” from our gathering. No one was created with a deficit; all are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) so the church should be a place where, more than any other, opposites attract. The church should be a mixed marriage where people, somewhat incredulously, ask, “How did you meet?”

— Teresa Klassen




One response

18 08 2010

Very beautifully written, it touched my heart!

Lord, let me see others as you do,with the eye’s of love!

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