MIRRORS AND REFLECTIONS

Did you ever go to the circus or perhaps an arcade “fun house” when you were a child, or perhaps you took your children or grandchildren?  If so, you may have seen the mirrors that you walk past which create a deformed reflection of yourself.  Remember?

One wavy mirror reflected a very T A L L you, while the next wavy mirror reflected a very short you.  The next mirror, the one that I hated, reflected a chubbier version of yourself.  As a child, I understood that I did not look like what the mirrors showed, and I also understood that I would not change my shape that fast.  But, there was always a little something tugging at my self-image – what if the mirror really showed me how I looked to others?

Mirrors are fun.  I recall our grandson making faces in the mirror when he was a small child.

mirror

Mirrors can confuse your pets as well.  When we first introduced Cuddles to our home, she barked at each window and mirror, apparently thinking that there was another dog in the house.

Cuddles frightened by reflection in mirror

If you look at the picture carefully, you will see her eyes reflected in the center of and at the bottom of the dresser’s center section of the mirror.  Even today, several years after coming to the house, she will look in a mirror and stare, cocking her head and watching that the dog in the mirror does the same thing.  Funny to us, but sometimes scary to her.

Mirrors are not the only things that provide reflective images. 

USED Mirror lake (C)
I love this picture of Mirror Lake, taken with a sepia tone filter.

We can see ourselves reflected in the still waters of a lake or pond.  But, while rivers have the same water that is found in the lake, the river is running, and the surface of the water is not calm, so the reflection is not visible.

Scripture talks about images and reflections.  We say that we want to know what God is like, but we cannot see Him because He is Spirit.  But, we have seen what God is like.  We have seen Him in Jesus Christ, our Lord.  In speaking of Jesus, the writer of Hebrews says:

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for [our] sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”

Hebrews 1:3

Jesus is the visible, earthly presence of the holy God, Father Almighty.  He, Jesus, holds all power and authority in heaven and on earth, and He is our Savior.  The mirror of Jesus Christ is not wavy nor is it fuzzy.  Jesus is the exact imprint of God in physical, visible, touchable form. 

Our problem is that we are mortal, made of dust.  But because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, He has enabled us to be transformed into His image. 

“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”

1 Corinthians 15:49

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Romans 8:29

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

This transformation does not occur all at one time … we still bear our carnal, earthly nature even after we have been saved from our sin by the gracious love of our Lord and Savior.  For example, Paul, writing to the Corinthians, says:

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”

1 Corinthians 13:12 [New Living Translation]

Our growth in Christ and our transformation into His image takes place as we study His Word, as we worship with other believers, as we hear His Gospel proclaimed, as we obey His voice, as we pray and intercede for others, as we live a life in conformity to the commands of our Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.

How do I know that this will take place?  Scripture tells me that I need to be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only.

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

James 1:23-25

So Beloved, do you look into the mirror of Scripture and see what it says, then going home and forgetting what you have seen?  Or, do you look into the mirror of Scripture and persevere as you do that which you have seen and heard, as you serve the Lord in humility and in love, as you praise Jesus Christ and His Father for your salvation and for your life in grace, as you praise the Holy Spirit for His presence in your life and for His guidance as you are transformed into the likeness of Christ?

Mirror clock

Now is the time to repent and be justified by your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  Look into the mirror of His Word and allow the Holy Spirit to transform you from the man/woman of dust into the man/woman in the image of Jesus Christ.

Father, I pray that Your Spirit would transform me into the image of Your Beloved Son, so that I can be a witness to others of His love and mercy, of His atoning sacrifice, of His serving nature as He did all that You asked of Him.  I pray that I would look into the mirror of Your Word and see where I am lacking, and then do that which Your Word directs so that I will grow into the likeness of my Lord.

ON THE RELEVANCY OF JOHATHAN EDWARDS IN 2016.

 

In preparing a Bible study on the fruit of the Spirit, other than Scripture, one of the primary references that I consulted was an incredible book entitled Charity and Its Fruits, that compiled Jonathan Edwards’ sermons that he preached in the 18th century  [edited from the original manuscripts with an introduction by Tyron Edwards, first published 1852 (The Banner of Truth Trust, 2005)].

 

Jonathan_Edwards[1]
Jonathan Edwards, Puritan Preacher from the 1700s.

Jonathan Edwards was born in 1703 and lived until 1758. [Picture from Wikipedia article, Jonathan Edwards (theologian) and from the front cover of the book Charity and Its Fruits.]

 

He was a Puritan theologian, pastor, and devout Calvinist, whose conversion centered on his coming to the realization that God is sovereign over all things. Many consider him to be the most significant American churchman of the 18th century, as he was a Preacher who was a leading figure in the (first) Great Awakening of the United States.

 

While I was in high school, I read one of his sermons entitled “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” that had been reproduced in my American Literature class textbook. I suspect many people know of this sermon, in which Edwards says:

“The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, abhors you and is dreadfully provoked.”

 

Clearly, his intent was to describe the reality and nature of Hell so that the hearer would turn to the Lord Jesus Christ.   His writings are way more extensive than just that one sermon, however!

 

In Charity and Its Fruits, Edwards talks about the work of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s heart and virtually each page challenges us to live a life in the power of the Holy Spirit as we exhibit love [charity] to those around us.

 

Here are a couple of passages for you to consider today as you meditate on your Christian walk.

Regarding the Christian’s attitude about suffering and difficulties in this life.

From Scripture:

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 [ESV]

From Jonathan Edwards:

They that are truly Christians, have that faith whereby they see that which is more than sufficient to make up for the greatest sufferings they can endure in the cause of Christ. They see that the excellency in God and Christ, whom they have chosen for their portion, far outweighs all possible sufferings. And they see, too, that glory which God has promised to them that suffer for his sake – that far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory which their sufferings for Christ’s sake work out for them, and in comparison with which, the heaviest sorrows and most enduring trials are but “light affliction, which is but for a moment.” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

 

  • Do I gripe about the sufferings that I must go through in this life?
  • Do I accept sorrows and trials in the knowledge that I am in God’s hands even then or do I search for answers to the “why me” questions that I posit?
  • Do I even stop, for one moment, to consider the suffering that my Savior, Jesus Christ, endured form my sake?
  • Do I count it a privilege to suffer for Jesus’ sake, or do I want my own creature comforts so much that I avoid suffering at all costs?
  • Do I really believe that the “excellency in God and Christ … far outweighs all possible sufferings”?

 

Easter in Canterbury (C)
Love is shown most strongly when we look at the cross and the empty tomb!  Easter in Canterbury, England

 

On love as being the “sum of all Christianity”.

From Scripture

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant … .

1 Corinthians 13:4 [ESV].

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.  They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Romans 1:28-32 [ESV]

From Jonathan Edwards:

 A Christian should at all times keep a strong guard against everything that tends to overthrow or corrupt or undermine a spirit of love. That which hinders love to men, will hinder the exercise of love to God… If love is the sum of Christianity, surely those things which overthrow love are exceedingly unbecoming ChristiansAn envious Christian, a malicious Christian, a cold and hard-hearted Christian, is the greatest absurdity and contradiction. It is as if one should speak of dark brightness, or a false truth!

 

  • Am I jealous of the position others possess, or of their possessions, or their families, or their figure?
  • Am I hard-hearted, arrogant, boastful?
  • Do I empathize with the injured or hurt person before me or do I simply nod my head and then move on to the next topic?
  • Do I share of the abundance that God has given me or do I hoard it in case of a need down the road?
  • Do I speak unkindly of those I hardly know, simply to put myself in a better position with those to whom I am speaking?
  • Am I friendly to others, only to make malicious comments about them to my friends?
  • Do I hinder love to man, and then expect God to accept my offering of love for Him?

 

When reading Jonathan Edwards, it seems as though he is speaking to me directly, notwithstanding the hundreds of years since he penned these words. It certainly is clear that the human experience has not improved in the intervening years! Once again, repentance is in order so that I can be cleansed so that the mirror of my life will reflect Christ’s love to those around me.

 

Do you see yourself in Edwards’ words?

 

If so, Beloved, repent and be restored to fullness of life in the Spirit of our Lord and Savior.

 

Sovereign God, thank You for giving us men such as Jonathan Edwards who gave us a clarion call for repentance, for devotion to your Son, Jesus Christ, and for guidance in living a life in grace and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Father, forgive me when I have ignored your Spirit and have acted in such a manner as to mar my witness for Jesus Christ. May these words be used to bring glory to You today.