We are taught to love, uphold and strive for ideals. The media and the culture at large teach us about ideal beauty. We should all want to be thin, young, have long hair and be White, or at least the Whitest version of what your ethnic group can provide if you are a non White person. We are told how an ideal citizen is supposed to behave. We are all supposed to want to go to school, get married, have a few kids, buy a home, work for forty years and pay taxes.
I don’t think anyone truly benefits from ideal imagery. Privilege is given to those that match a culture’s ideal imagery but that privilege is based on superficiality and falsehoods. But they sometimes struggle to maintain their admirable façade and suffer when their reality doesn’t match the image that the world sees. Those that don’t match what their culture calls ideal can become victims of discrimination and must endure the consequences of unfair treatment.
Anyone that tries to promote an ideal image is most likely trying to manipulate you for their own benefit. The cosmetics industry needs to present you with an ideal image so that you will want to buy what they are selling in order to pursue their idea of beauty and desirability. Weight loss companies sell fat people the idea that an ideal thin figure will lead to happiness. Dating websites promote that being a part of a couple is the ideal to single people in order to sell their services. White supremacy has been sold to the world in order to consolidate resources and wealth for certain people and places in the world while others suffer.
The only ideal is Jesus Christ. Nothing else matches His purity or perfection. Beware of anything or anyone that tries to sell you an image or idea of perfection other than Christ. When humans try to convince others that they or something they produce is ideal they are going to try to exploit and take advantage of others.
There are many people that I admire for their abilities, talents or beauty. But we all have gifts and talent but none of us are perfect. It does not matter how beautiful, athletic, smart, wealthy and talented an individual is we all need a savior. There is nothing wrong with striving for beauty, career success or wealth but it is important to remember that none of those things are the end all and be all. It is easy to create unhealthy idols of our ideals. Always put God first.
Exodus 20: 3-4
3 You must have no other gods before me. 4 Do not make an idol for yourself-no form whatsoever-of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.
All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, 24 but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus.
3 Don’t trust leaders; don’t trust any human being-there’s no saving help with them! 4 Their breath leaves them then they go back to the ground. On that very same day, their plans die too.