There were times Jesus drew people to Himself, and times when He drove them away. Truths He told that inspired people to love Him, and truths He told that incited them to kill Him.
While Jesus certainly listened to people and we know by His actions that He loved them, I don’t get the impression He checked in with them frequently to ask how He was doing. He didn’t have the disciples hand out response cards or run polls with certain demographics to see if He should tell more stories this week or hit harder on the love thing, but pull back a bit on hell.
Jesus wasn’t one to check His reflection in every mirror. He was the image of only One – God the Father – and that’s the only mirror that mattered.
To make life interesting for the modern church, the enemy has devised a hall of mirrors, and we need to be both aware of them and on guard against them. Too many individual believers, congregations, even entire denominations have grown weary, drained, and paralyzed simply from too many false reflections.
There’s the media mirror screaming headlines about evangelicals, telling us what we think and how we’re coming across to the masses. There’s the social media mirror full of Christians running into pseudo-Christians or immature believers spouting counterfeit messages and confusing even the church.
There’s the polling mirror where we ask questions of certain demographics to try to get to know them, which is a worthy endeavor, until we ask that mirror to tell us how we should appear to them. Then, things get goofy, because one demographic wants us to be taller, another asks us to be smaller, and we end up drowning in a sea of our own tears like Alice in Wonderland.
It makes sense, if you’re running for office or trying to sell something, that you check frequently with your target audience and tailor your message according to their response meter. The church is doing neither. We’re here to serve others, not market Jesus to them. We need to know them, yes, but there’s a fine line, though, between listening to the people you’re called to love, and pandering to them.
There are modern mirrors that magnify every aspect of the church to global proportions so the challenge seems so large we’re overwhelmed and do nothing. Other cracked mirrors magnify one single flaw of the church, so as to make it seem that the whole church is nothing but a pimple on the face of God.
Distorted mirrors from within the church cry out we’re too fat, spending too much time in consuming and not enough caring, while others decry us as too thin, not consuming enough of the truth that matters but just running around tending to the world with no message.
It’s exhausting and unnecessary.
Of course, the church (and individual Christians) should spend time reflecting, but it matters what mirror we choose.
James says it best in chapter 1:22-27 (ESV) “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 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. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
The world is a defective mirror, loved ones, and sometimes we find shards within our own ranks. We need to waste less time gazing into it to find out who we are and how we’re doing. Jesus knew this. He pulled away from everyone and spent time alone with His Father every day. It’s His feedback that matters. His direction. His assessment. He holds the only response card that matters.
Pulling away to be with God isn’t a way of avoiding the world – He knows them better than they know themselves. He loves them more than we ever can. To focus on God is to serve those we’re attempting to reach. Jesus’ life demonstrates this.
And those we’re trying to reach with the truth of Jesus? They’re victims of these warped reflections, too. The enemy and our own sin natures, apart from Christ, would have us bouncing from one reflection to another constantly fixing and adjusting in pursuit of the perfect reflection to our utter exhaustion and the waste of our lives.
God’s Word isn’t just the only true mirror, it’s the mirror that leads to the Door – Jesus.
Maybe Alice had it right, after all. It’s our job, as the church, not only to identify the only true mirror, but to step through the looking glass with Jesus to the life that frees us from this hall of warped reflections.
Pay attention, this week. Ask God to show you the defective mirrors you’ve been checking. We’re designed for freedom, loved ones. If we exercise it, others will follow us there.
— Lori Roeleveld (@lorisroeleveld) February 26, 2017
You want to be effective in your faith. You want to slay giants. You’ll want this book. Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life)