I was sitting in the living room of a missionary in South Africa early one morning when I noticed one of the students who had made the trip with us standing in front of a hallway mirror. She stood there gazing at her reflection, fiddling with her hair, and trying on different expressions. What did she see? Knowing this student well, with all of her insecurities, she was seeing what she wanted to see—an attractive young woman who would turn the heads of young men; a confident woman who knew what she wanted and would be successful in life.
Mirrors are alluring things and dangerous. They draw us in and reflect more of how we see ourselves than the reality of who we truly are. When I look into our bathroom mirror each morning, I continue to see a man who looks much younger than he is. But the image I see is much different than the ones revealed in photographs. Those show a much older, grayer man. Why the difference? Because a mirror reinforces our perceptions, while a photo displays what is closer to reality.
A person who is anorexic can gaze into a mirror and see looking back at them someone who is overweight. An older person who has worked with college student his whole adult life sees someone not young but not so old, either. Mirrors just naturally skew reality.
In my work, I deal with a lot of young people who have a skewed view of themselves. Most are quite insecure about who they are and how they are viewed by others. Many use selfie posts to reinforce or contradict their particular mirror image of themselves. They want people to comment that they look great or are beautiful. Like the young woman I described above, they put way too much emphasis on how they see themselves in the mirror.
As followers of Jesus, our “mirror image” should be formed, not by a physical mirror, but instead by the Word of God. As we look into this mirror, we gain a true perspective of who we really are. So, let’s take a moment to gaze into it and see what is revealed about each of us.
*You are a unique creation of God. Just as he created Adam, so he created you, totally distinctive among the more than 110 billion that have ever lived or are currently alive. No one like you exists or has ever existed (Psalm 139:13-16).
*You are deeply loved as you currently are. “For God so loved the world…(John 3:16) The world then and now is not made up of good and righteous people.
*Despite your lack of goodness and a rebellious heart, you are still deeply loved. Jesus died for sinners like you (Romans 5:8).
*Regardless of what the world may tell you, you are not strong if you are trying to be strong on your own. You are weak, but in your weakness, the Lord can be your strength (II Corinthians 12:9-10)
*He has given you distinctive gifts and abilities to do this work, along with the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish it (I Corinthians 12:4-6).
This is who you truly are. You are unique, so stop trying so hard to be someone else. God created you to become who he created you to be, not to be someone else.
You are loved for who you are, so stop trying to earn God’s love. It is never earned, but rather given to you freely.
You are a sinner. There is no need to convince yourself and others how good you and that you are strong. Instead, be humble about your shortcomings and weaknesses, accepting them in the light of God’s grace and mercy toward you.
The Lord can and wants to use you in his Kingdom work. Drop the excuse that you are just not good enough or strong enough yet to serve. The truth is, you never will be, so you might as well start now.
This is the image to which you should compare what you see in the mirror every day. And regardless of what you see staring back at you in the latter, God’s mirror provides the true and authentic view of who you are. You would be wise to spend much more time observing and contemplating what it reflects.
© Jim Musser 2019