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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Shine on

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?  Most of us would say we see a reflection of ourselves.  Looking back at us is the man or woman we have become, complete with all the wrinkles, gray hairs, blemishes, cellulite, and the like.  Rarely does anyone answer, "I see Christ".  Why?  I am not sure we actually see Christ because we only see the "dullness" of this earthen vessel and his brightness is just beneath the surface, struggling to get out!  Paul puts it this way:

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!  (2 Corinthians 4:7-12 MSG)

We are "unadorned clay pots" - we live ordinary lives, nothing too spectacular to talk about, and really don't display all the glory which dwells within us all too well until...

- We are surrounded and battered by trials, for it is then we perfectly see Christ in us when we are not "demoralized" by those trials.  In other words, the very fact we are not thrown into a tailspin of confusion and chaotic disorder in our lives when these trials come our way is a reflection of the light of Christ's presence within us.  

- We are unsure of how to proceed, for it is then we have perfect knowledge of how God would have us step forward.  For those who take the first step forward with a little trepidation, take heart.  Until you gain the trust of God being with you with each step, the first one will always be the hardest!  Yet, in the stepping forward, we reveal much about Christ within us - making each step secure and firm.

- We are under the remarkably difficult pressures of spiritual battle, for it is there Christ's strength is revealed.  In the midst of battle, it may appear we are being "terrorized" - intimidated, overcome with overmastering fear - but Christ's presence becomes so evident when what "should" produce debilitating fear only spurs us on and helps us dig in a little deeper.

- We find ourselves at our lowest point, for is then Christ is able to pull us up, dust us off, and reveal to the world our "unbroken" state of being whole in him.  Sure, he looks for us to have a "broken and contrite heart", but when the weight of this world would seek to shove us down, he shines through in how quickly we actually get back up!

So, as you can see, there is much evidence of Christ's presence within us - maybe not so evident when we look in the mirror - but perfectly evident in the way we deal with life.  I love what Paul says next, "...what Jesus did among them, he does in us - he lives!"  Chew on that one a bit.  Jesus walked the face of this earth and was faced with all kinds of not so good pressures - rejected by many, reputation drug through the mud, accused falsely, measured by unrealistic standards, doubted even when telling the truth.  Yet, in those times, he shined!  What he did among them, he now does in us!  His "life" gives us "light".  

Most importantly, as Paul puts it, while we are going through the worst, we are getting in on the best!  The image in the mirror is actually changing for the better!  The pressures actually produce something of beauty and clarity in us - much like a diamond is made "under pressure".  If you think life is tough right now, it probably is!  If you think nothing of value will come of it, you are definitely wrong - for it is right where you find yourself today that Christ is free to bring forth more light in your life!

We probably don't shine as brightly as some, nor as bright as we'd like, but Christ in us assures us we shine on!  Just sayin!