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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What do you see reflected?

Have you ever told yourself something only to find out in the end you were really just fooling yourself?  Until we actually look in the mirror, we don't see what is likely right in front of us all the time.  Even when we look into the mirror, we may not see exactly what we thought was there - because the mirror is clouded over with some film.  If you have ever taken a hot shower in a closed room, you find the mirror becomes all coated with the steam.  The coating on the mirror actually keeps you from seeing an accurate appearance of who you are.  Even if you try to wipe the steam away a little, the image you may see is still a little distorted by the remaining particles of water gathered on the mirror.  In actuality, the "image" never changes, just the reflection does!

If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.  (1 John 1:8-10 MSG)

John calls attention to this "reflection" process.  Here he presents a unique situation - if we claim to be free of sin, we are actually not seeing an accurate reflection of our true self.  As he states very certainly - we are just fooling ourselves (in fact, no one else is fooled - just us).  He calls this claim errant nonsense.  Errant - deviating from the regular course.  We usually call this deviation "straying".  Nonsense - conduct or action that is senseless or absurd.  In other words, John likens denying we are "sinless" as straying from what makes sense and can be considered a little absurd.  

On the other hand, if we admit our sin - we have an advocate to help us see our sin in the right perspective, but more importantly, we have the advocate to BRING us into right perspective.  There is no one more capable of bringing things into right perspective than Christ himself.  He does more than wipe the steam from the mirror, he also removes the sleep from our eyes.  He awakens us from our slumber - our inattentiveness.  By so doing, he brings us face to face with the "true us" - but as he sees us, not as we see ourselves.  

It is one thing to finally see ourselves - it is quite another to be brought into the right light.  As I have been teaching over the past couple of weeks, what seems obvious actually helps build an awareness of the obscure - but only if we are willing to see as we are seen.  Too many times, people tell me they are good and don't need a Savior.  The truth is no one is good enough to not need a Savior.  Those who admit they need a Savior often don't accept the finished work of the cross as the true "reflection" of who and what they are today.  They tell themselves the reflection they see is something other than what Christ sees.  

Here's the cold, hard truth - Christ sees us differently that we most often see ourselves.  Sure, he sees our sinfulness.  Yes, he sees our short-comings.  Definitely, he sees the moments of straying.  Yet...in all this, he sees something we often don't - himself!  Looking again at what John presents here, he says when we ask Jesus to "clean our mirrors", he does a thorough job so the reflection seen is one which bears only his image - no the image of our former life.  He sees the new - we focus on the old.  He clears away the gathered "steam" - we strain to see past it.  

What happens when we don't see an accurate reflection of ourselves?  We second-guess our ability and this affects our availability.  When we don't see ourselves as "matching" the image Christ sees, we don't feel worthy to be used by him.  We don't feel the purpose we fulfill is really all that worthwhile.  We even begin to question if we really will ever change.  Reality check here, folks!  You are a new creation in Christ Jesus - as such, you have already been transformed and as you continue to go through the process of seeing your actions align with your new image, he is right there alongside, still seeing you exactly as he has made you - perfect in every way.  God will be true to himself by making perfect what he declares to be perfect.  He keeps the image of our perfection before him - maybe we'd do well to begin to focus on this reflection instead of the one we've been considering for so long!  Just sayin!