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Image is Everything

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2016 12 May

an image of ripples in water radiating out from a perfect circle

The year 1960 was a watershed for political campaigns because it was the year radio lost out to television. In what has become known as the Great Debate, Vice President Richard Nixon’s deep, strong voice carried well over radio. Listeners were sure he had won. But the majority of the seventy million people who had watched the first-ever televised presidential debate named Senator John Kennedy of Massachusetts the hands-down winner.

Why the difference?

Nixon had entered the debate exhausted and underweight after a two-week stay in the hospital for a serious knee injury and a hectic campaign schedule to make up for lost time. Arriving at the debate in an ill-fitting shirt tucked into grey suit pants and a jacket, he appeared bland and sickly against the grey background. He also made the mistake of refusing makeup, with the result that he looked sweaty and unshaven on camera. It didn’t help that viewers could see him wiping the sweat from his forehead.

By contrast, Kennedy’s navy suit looked crisp against the grey backdrop. Well-rested, tanned, and perfectly groomed, wearing makeup to cover up any imperfections, he appeared the picture of health and vitality. The influence of that one debate on the election was enormous. From then on, candidates and their campaigns have paid enormous attention to the image they project.

As Christians, we, too, should be concerned about our image. I’m not saying we should spend time and energy making superficial changes in order to impress people.

On the contrary.

The kind of changes we are called to make go much deeper and take more personal investment. They can only be made as we cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit. Remember that shalom means wholeness. As we become like Christ, we become whole. No longer suffering from as many interior and exterior divisions, we can more readily reflect God’s image in the world around us. Instead of being Christians whose woundedness and sinfulness alienate others, we can become people whose peace and wholeness draw others to Christ.  <a href="">More</a>