There is a common trend on social media to use the hashtag #TransformationTuesday and post photos of what you used to look like versus what you look like now. Another hashtag used is #GlowUp where people post photos of how much more attractive they are now then when they were younger. These posts are used for a number of reasons including the goal of gaining followers, coaching others on how to do the same, and receiving affirmation on how great you look now.
Could some people post on #TransformationTuesday with selfless motivation and a true desire to love others? Absolutely! We do not have the ability to judge the motives of the masses. However, it is likely safe to assume that many of these posts are to point a spotlight on “self” and no one else.
You don’t need to post on a specific day to know the temptation to use social media for self-centered purposes. It is a dangerous place that fosters vanity, selfishness, and false images. Social media can be used for good, of course, but it speaks to a larger issue in our world. We crave an image that makes us look like we have it all together.
Yet elevating our own image above all others is idolatry. For the Christian, it is God’s image that we desire is elevated and adored because we know that He has made us in His image (Genesis 1:26). The elevation of God’s image requires that we fade into the background, but we do not like to show our weaknesses.
The Weakened Schemer
Over and over again in Scripture, God uses the weak to shame the strong, the foolish to shame the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27). One remarkable example of God using weakness to bring himself glory is in the story of Jacob.
When Jacob wrestles with God in Genesis 32:24-32, God weakens him to the point of limping. Before this encounter, Jacob has often tried to facilitate his life according to his own will. He consistently lives up to his name, which means “deceiver.” Jacob’s life is marked with selfishness and strife for what does not belong to him.
Now before the Lord, Jacob is weakened. It is here that God not only spares his life, He gives him a new name, Israel. This marks not only the weakening of his physical form, but also the weakening of his personal pride. As the sun rises after Jacob is wounded, he walks through the desert a man no longer seeking to deceive, but as a man who struggled with God and lived. Humility covers his face because he knows God could have destroyed him, but spared him.
It is the image of God that shines brightest in Jacob after he is weakened. It is not his own works, abilities, or beauty that the entire nation of Israel will remember, but his weakness (Genesis 32:32).
Where God’s Transforming Power Flourishes
What happens if your physical strength or beauty is weakened? What if that which once brought you favor and status causes you to be unliked or hated by the world? What happens if those who once praised us turned against us once they see our weakness?
Our image will not prevail in this world. We can be like Jacob before he wrestled with God and spend our life deceiving those around us. Or, we can allow God to transform us.
His transforming power flourishes in our weaknesses. We are changed when we no longer rely on what we bring to the altar, but on the risen Lord who is seated on the throne. Jesus endured a broken body and destroyed name, and he died, which is the ultimate declaration of weakness. We know that this was not the end of the story. The power of the Spirit raised Jesus from the dead and declared God’s might to the world. And it is this same power that lives within us and will also raise up our weak and weary bodies to be united to our King.
This post is written by Allyson Todd, and is published as a companion to Unit 3, Session 4 of The Gospel Project for Adults Vol. 1 (Fall 2021): From Creation to Chaos.