Proverbs 27:19 (NIV) As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.
What is the reflection of our life? It is easy to judge a book by its cover. We are all guilty of making assumptions on appearance alone. My husband and I often will go for leisurely drives just after dinner. Just to get away for a few minutes, talk and spend some time together. As we drive through neighborhoods, many people are eating dinner, taking walks, or piddling in their yard, I often wonder about that particular family. Peering into their lives for just a moment or even 30 seconds, I wonder what their life is like. Call me a nosy female, an innocent bystander or just a person who is inquisitive, but I remember as a child looking at the other kids in my neighborhood or even in my class wondering if they had the perfect life. My parents divorced when I was in second grade. I wanted to compare my life to others to see if they had some secret ingredient to happiness as my little world fell apart. Who doesn’t want a happy life?
Well, I have come to determine that all those folks in big houses with fancy cars and perfect lawns have problems just like I do. Maybe more, if the saying, “More money more problems” is accurate. The “perfect” parents who I constantly measured my own up to have their own challenges that keep them from being flawless in their raising of children and successes in life. See we project what we want others to see, secretly hiding the hard times and failures as not to portray weakness to the watching world. Christians do the same thing. Reshaped by religion and devoted to doctrine – we portray an outward change yet in our heart it is still the same. Our relationship with Jesus Christ should be reflected first in our heart. How we live. How we love. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to sharing Jesus. I was lost but now I am saved. I am not perfect just perfectly forgiven and completely redeemed by the love that I am called to reflect each day.
James 1:22-25 (NIV) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the world but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.
I wonder what would happen if rather than listening to preachers, podcasts and public opinion about God, Jesus and His Spirit, we had to solely rely on His Word and the Holy Spirit for instruction in our life. What if the only way to grow in the Lord was with Bible in hand? I wonder if the church would be washed as white as snow again. Would the Blood of Jesus run through it? Would we be willing to consider the Cross again rather than avoiding its brutality but embracing its beauty? In our desperation to know Him, all believers would break open the Word and feed on it as God intended rather than allowing other imperfect people to point the way. Do not get me wrong I love my pastor and I love my church. I just want to love Jesus more and reflect Him in my everyday life.
There are many people who will go into the House of God this week and hear the Word of God again. They go every week for a dose of freedom. Like a shot in the arm, it’s a pick me up kind of thing. Then trudging back ill-equipped into the battle called life. Life without Jesus is a losing battle. The enemy is strong, but greater is He who is in you and I than he that is in the world. Is Jesus in you today? Is He in me? When I look at the reflection of my life, what do I see? Do I love ridiculously? Do I give radically? Do I live relationally? Do I reflect faith, hope and love to a dark and dying world? I cannot just listen to God’s Word and continue the same way.
Salvation begins with repentance. Repentance is a turning. If I am not constantly turning more and more of my life over to the Lord, it would be reasonable to say that I may not be saved. I cannot follow Christ and continue my own way. My flesh desires depravity and sin. His Spirit desires fullness and life. The two cannot be intermingled no matter what other people say.
Grace is sufficient in our weakness but not in our unwillingness to love and serve Jesus. I heard that huge intake of breath. Why would grace work for those who do not want His Way? Grace if found in repentance. Without repentance, can we really have God’s Grace?
Ephesians 2 tells us about God’s Grace for us. We have grace because of God’s Great Love for us. God in His Rich Mercy made us alive in Christ though we were once dead in our sin. “For it is by grace we are saved through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the Gift of God.” Faith is a step in the right direction. It is the first one of many that tells the watching world that we have decided to follow Jesus, repenting of our sin, turning from darkness, and receiving all that grace has to offer. God prepared you to do good things and equipped you to do so. We must step out of the darkness and live in the Light of His Love to experience the new life given to us by Jesus. This is a true reflection of who we are that comes from a heart set on Jesus.
Romans 8:28-30 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn of many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Does my life reflect the love and grace that I have found in Christ? We must ask ourselves this question every day examining our heart for validity of our faith. See without faith it is impossible to please God or reflect Jesus to the world. When we take the time to find ourselves in the Word of God and do what it says, the promises of God become possible even those thought to be impossible. It is not my ability to control every situation or avoid certain circumstances that reflect Christ in me, but when I do encounter situations or fall into diverse circumstances that make all the difference. I believe that all things work together for my good simply because God loves me. People didn’t teach me that.
When our son was sick, many people would come and offer encouragement. It was easy to tell those who believed that he would survive the awful ordeal and those who were convinced he would die. God said that he would live long after the doctors had begun to lose hope. God said it from the beginning. I had to choose with each diagnosis who I would believe. I kept choosing the Lord right down to the end. What choice did I have? To choose anything else would have been the death of my child. We can clean ourselves us. We can live a good life. We can make better choices. We can even change bad habits. This is not how we reflect Jesus to the world. It is a heart condition that pours from the pores of our life.
I Corinthians 13:11-13 (NIV) When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 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. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Let’s be real for a moment. Just between us. Are you living a rich and satisfying life? Do you have inexpressible joy that finds its way out of you even on the darkest days? Has your life changed for the better since you met Jesus Christ? If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, it is not a Savior problem but a saint one. You were created in the Image of God. You have full potential in Jesus Christ to live according to His Glorious Standard. It is right there in black and white. “Those he justified, he also glorified.” The Blood of Jesus washes away all of our sin. It is “just like” it never happened. That is justification.
I used to have a dress that I loved. I wore it dying eggs with my son. The dye got on my favorite dress and I was devastated. I gave it to the “grandma” next door who promised to get the stain out for me. She did. I remember when I wore it for the first time after she had restored it to “like new” condition that I would be more careful than before and avoid things that would mar it again. Why not do the same in salvation? It only makes sense. To become a Christian should mean to be like Christ.
Sometimes God’s People get lost in the partial image of the church and lose their identity as the Body of Christ. Like a dismembered body, there is an arm over here, a hand right there and a leg somewhere on the left. To join the Body of Christ means to stop focusing on the partial view and step out in faith to a higher perspective of life. Stop arguing about the details of religion and focus on a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ. If we all strive personally to know the Lord and be made into His Image, the Body of Christ would be like dry bones coming to life. It is our personal pursuit of Jesus Christ and focusing on our own image in the Lord that promotes unity in the Body of Christ. We become so focused on faith, hope and love that makes keeping up with the Jones’ doesn’t really matter as long as I am following Jesus. It means not worrying about how others dress, what they sing, what they do, but loving them all extravagantly with the love and grace which we have been given.
It is time to wean the babies, discipline the children, and grow our churches again. We don’t want to be seeker sensitive but sensitive to Jesus. His Word fills our heart with fertile seeds that will produce not only a harvest in our life but will yield enough for others. God promises to give seed to the sower. The Holy Spirit will take the Word and work it through every surrendered area of our life. Dead dreams will come to life. Purpose will be birthed. Promises will be had. It is high time to stop coddling public opinion and entertaining anything other than the Gospel. We must hold ourselves personally accountable for the condition of our heart and surrender it to Jesus all over again that is if we want to be a true reflection.
I John 3:2-3 (NIV) Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.