In the late 1980s and early 1990s, tennis superstar Andre Agassi appeared in a commercial for Canon in which he boldly claimed that image is everything. I scoffed at the notion then, but have since come to realize that he was actually right, image really is everything.
(I’ll explain in a bit. Stick with me.)
Basketball coaching legend John Wooden once said: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
On the surface, these two statements seem to contradict each other. Agassi’s supports the mindset that what others think is most important, while Wooden’s takes the opposite approach.
Actually, if we go by words alone, the two statements—along with one I’ll introduce in a moment—support each other in meaningful ways.
I get that the Agassi statement was meant in a brash, worldly manner intended to sell cameras. However, for the sake of the point I’m going to make, I’m taking the declaration at face value, devoid of intention.
So how important is image really? Turns out, it’s of the utmost importance.
An ancient prophet named Alma once asked: “… have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma 5:14, italics added)
In this context, it’s evident that image—God’s image—is what needs to be at the center of our character. When God’s image becomes everything to us, our nature changes and we become more like what He intends for us to become. Our weaknesses and shortcomings lessen and eventually become strengths, all in accordance with the consistent efforts we make to receive God’s image in our heart and mind.
Feasting daily on the scriptures, praying for others, serving others, loving others, being kind, long-suffering, non-judgmental … these are some of the things we need to do and try to become in order to receive God’s image in our mind and heart.
Receiving God’s image won’t exempt you from making mistakes. It won’t make you perfect in an instant or better than anyone else. It will, however, create in you a sense of purpose and peace that will last as long as you want it to through consistent efforts to keep it alive. God’s image is like a houseplant; it requires nourishment, love, and care. While the source of God’s image will never cease, its personal application and influence will wither and die in you if you don’t provide it with what it needs to thrive.
I invite you to take a moment today to inspect your character, what you really are, and to commit to making changes that will bring you closer to God. By caring less about what others think about you and your actions and more about what God thinks about you and your actions, you’ll have taken the first step toward receiving His image in your countenance.
Image really is everything.