1999-07-01 - A Hard Look in the Mirror
Who are you behind those eyes that stare back at you in the mirror every morning? Our friends, spouses and family know the person on the outside pretty well. On the whole, the vast majority of people in this world are hard working, well meaning people who would make good acquaintances or neighbors. But those of us who name Jesus as our Lord and Savior have an interesting dichotomy living within ourselves.
Eph 2:1-3 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (NAS)
We stood in line with the guilty. We walked the halls of Death Row. The worst part of it was that nobody knew it. For a long while I imagine we fooled ourselves too. But, one day we looked in the mirror and realized that the person staring back at us was weak. Our appetites could get the best of us too easily. The guilt would come rolling in with no solution. We would do better the next time, but next time came and there we were again. Looking for answers and wishing we could break this habit.
What we now know is that we were bound by our master. We lived the life he wanted for us. He took us down a step at a time, miring us in thoughts and deeds we had no power to escape from. We could rationalize that we were as good as the next person. And the sad fact is that that statement would be true. "If God is a God of love then how could He turn me, His creation, away?"
Eph 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (NAS)
The Bible tells us that wages of sin is death; eternal, spiritual separation from God. This would be justice for us. We deserve nothing better. But the free gift of God is eternal life. And this is where the dark story ends and a new, exciting one begins. If you can look in the mirror and do the one thing we all hate to do, God can help you. Quit fighting. You are in the dark, digging like there is no tomorrow to get out of a pit. If you will stop digging and admit the futility of your efforts, you may hear a voice calling. "Come to me all you who are weak and heavy burdened, and I will give rest for your souls, …"
Are you still fighting? Would rest be the most wonderful thought your tired heart and mind could imagine? What God did to bring us back to a place where we could be friends with Him again, He did on our behalf for His glory. Where are all the "Thou shalt not's"? They have been replaced by "Thou shalt love …" the Lord and your neighbors as you do yourself. It would be hard to not love someone Who had done so much for us, or to hate someone who struggles with things that we once struggled with ourselves. Are there are few things to change in your life? Would it be worth those changes to know peace and quiet in your stormy heart and life? Will there be other things to struggle with? Yes, but you will not be alone when you face them.
Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (NAS)
Christ died for every single face in the mirror. None of us deserve it, or could do anything to earn the first sliver of the unmerited favor and hope that has been pour into our lives. We can only hate what we once were if we forget that we were once just as lost and as angry and hopeless. As we accept His free gift, our sentence was commuted and we were set free.
Are you still living in the dark part of the story? The simple truth is this: God loves you, no matter what you've ever done, or said, or thought. He died in your place to forgive it all. The things that hold you where you are are simply shadows and lies without power for substance. There is nothing in all of creation that can keep Jesus from you. Just ask. Jesus promised that He will never turn anyone who is truly seeking away. If you're ready to quit, or there is nothing left to try - Jesus stands ready to help. You may be in deep. The trip out may not be easy. But, you will have Him by your side every step of the way and it will be easier than the road you are on now.
When you look in the mirror next time, there could be a smile.
Lord Jesus, help us to remember where we were and how much You have done for us. If we are mindful of how much You have done for us, thanks and love will flow from a grateful heart. And if we remember where we were, we will have compassion on the people who are still there. Love God, love your neighbor. Amen.
Grace & Peace,