This week, I’ve spent time with great friends, new and old. What I learned is that we are mirrors to each other. I reflect others back to themselves. They reflect me back to myself. Sometimes I’m happy with the progress I see. Sometimes I am ashamed.
I had lunch with 2 new acquaintances who declared themselves non-religious and then asked if I was religious. “You would probably classify me as religious, yes,” was my answer. We mostly discussed other topics, but when discussing religion, I was surprised to find that I can now discuss it from my own perspective and experience, with true respect for them as people with legitimate, if differing, opinions. I was truly listening to them, and truly interested in learning more about their opinions and experiences.
Authenticity is everything. I’m glad to have found these 2 new friends. I like them for who they are, not because I feel compelled to convert them. I think Jesus’ conversations with people were organic. They happened because He actually liked spending time with people who were authentic. No pretending. I hope they understood that not all Christians are the awful people my new friends think they are. I hope I was a mirror, reflecting their assumptions back to them. They were mirrors to me as well, showing me how people are damaged when Christians bludgeon people in God’s name.
That same day, I also visited a friend I’ve known for several years. She is the embodiment of Colossians 4:6, which says:
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
She is a mirror to me. I spend time with her and I think, “I want to be like her,” where every word that leaves my lips is somehow edifying to those around me. She isn’t pretending. She does this authentically, because she spends time with Jesus. She’s grafted into the Vine, and the fruit of the Spirit comes out of her life simply because of that, and not because she’s trying to make it happen.
We also spent time with some other friends we’ve known for a few years. In the effort to be funny and entertaining, a few things were said that shouldn’t have been said. Nothing earth-shattering, for sure, but things I’m not proud of, even if they didn’t bother anyone else. (Have you ever apologized for saying something the other person didn’t even notice? Yeah, that’s me. But I digress.)
These friends were mirrors to me, showing me a part of myself that needs to be changed. If my pastor had been there, those things would not have been said. That makes me a hypocrite. I don’t want to be that way, living different lives depending on who I’m with.
Toby Mac’s catchphrase “speak life” was on my mind all New Year’s Day. It took me the whole day to commit to it as a long-term resolution for my life, because I don’t see how I can do this without failing. But that’s the point: I can’t do it. Only the Spirit unchained in my heart and mind can accomplish this.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” – Isaiah 6:5
That pretty much says it all. Isaiah recognized the gaping canyon between who he was and who he should be, and he recognized that those two things couldn’t co-exist. The very next verse has the cure:
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Only something from the throne room of the King can fix this problem. In the stories we read in the gospels, people were changed simply because they spent time with Jesus. He was a mirror to them, showing them who they were, and who they could become in His presence.
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” – John 4:29
Those words were said by a woman who had a lot to be ashamed of in her life. She spoke to others about her experience, not because she had it all together, but because she couldn’t keep quiet about her encounter with Jesus. I feel like that’s me right now. We have expectations of people who speak to a group. We assume they’re holding the mic because they’re knowledgeable or qualified or they’ve got everything under control.
I just finished my first term of communications classes and will be taking more classes this year. What’s funny is that while I’m getting good grades, I feel that God is showing me all the ways in which I’m a terrible communicator in my personal life. By the end of New Year’s Day, after reflecting on all these things, I found myself literally afraid of what my mouth is capable of doing. But I think that’s good, because:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. – Proverbs 9:10
If I wake up every morning with that same fear, I’ll be grateful. In fact, I’m praying for it. Assuming I’ll live through another year on this crazy planet, by the end of 2015, I hope to be a very different person than I am today. Usually I’ve got some kind of plan for self-improvement, but this time, I have no idea what to expect. I think that’s a good thing. I think it leaves room for Jesus to work His magic in my hypocritical heart and mind.
If you’re reading this and you know me, please know each of you are a mirror to me, and for that, I am humbly grateful. As far as the world is concerned, I’m a really good person. But like Isaiah, when the mirror of the King is held up to my life, I fall so short that I’m ashamed. But so many of you speak life to me, like the angel as he cleansed Isaiah’s lips with the coal. Each of you is a mirror to me, sometimes because of the words you say, but mostly because of the people you are. He turns each of us as mirrors in His hand, revealing His truth in each others’ lives, piece by piece, as we cross each others’ paths in this life.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. – 1 Corinthians 13:12
(Thanks to CORE Youth Ministry and Toby Mac for the image)