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One of my first jobs was selling shoes. This was a good fit for me because I played a lot of basketball and bought a lot of sneakers. One of my early practices was evaluating people based upon their shoes. Some of this was a necessity as you would try to match them up with their current tastes and needs. However, the practice, which became a game, also became a habit. A habit that continues to this day.

I still find myself sizing up runners, ballers, hipsters, thugs, businessmen, etc by their kicks. I have to work to devalue my various subjective conclusions about people.

I am certainly not the only one who does this. Maybe it is not shoes, but people evaluate themselves and others based upon what they project. If you doubt me, just spend some time listening in on teen-agers’ unfiltered conversations. Watch their eye movements; they are always in assessment mode.

This habit shows itself in the ministry of the church. People see others who are gifted, blessed, or happy and they evaluate themselves based upon how they measure up to them. The individual or family becomes the standard, “If we look and act like them then we are in good shape.”

There is little difference here than with the young guy who finds his value in wearing a new pair of Jordans.

We we idolators if we are finding our worth in projecting the image of others or if we are finding condemnation in failing to project the image of others.

We were not created to live this low-budget movie of a life. We are supposed to project and enjoy the image of Christ. We are to see his love for his Father, the Law, others, his mercy-grace-equity-and holiness, and we are to smile and labor to earnestly project it.

Too often we are blind to this while seeing other images with 20-20 vision. This is deadly. If we make others’ image our standard then we will worship them until we will attain it and then worship ourselves when others do not attain it.

This chasing after phantoms does little to satisfy our longings for acceptance or redemption. We feel condemned because we cannot meet God’s standard, his image. And we feel hungry because the substitutes we employ cannot satisfy.

This is where the beauty of Christ comes to bear. He calls out to the hungry, hurting, unsatisfied souls to come to him for rest and the removal of guilt:

(Mat 11.28-30) Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

He comes to satisfy hungry people. He comes to make guilty people feel no shame. This he does by taking our guilt and filling our souls.

It is only Christ whom the hungry eyes of men may focus upon to find rest from the weary hike through this world. He is indeed a better Savior then I think him to be; and it is my hungry heart that reminds me of how I forget this.

(Originally posted in 2010)

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Erik Raymond

Erik Raymond is senior pastor of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Ne. He and his wife Christie have six children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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