Have you looked at yourself in a mirror lately? I mean really looked you over with a discerning and evaluating gaze? I made that mistake not long ago and the question I kept asking myself was “Where did that guy I used to see in that mirror go? How did this happen? Where did this guy looking back at me come from and what has he done with the young, fit, handsome guy I used to see there?” Grey has begun to be the predominant color in my hair and wrinkles and circles have replaced youthful glow. My midline is more middle area and where there used to be definition there is now only declining formations. As I stared at the person I had become physically the words of American author Will Rodgers ran through my mind, “If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.” The next thought that entered my mind was “What can I do about this guy, should I call a plastic surgeon, an internal medicine specialist, or a personal trainer or all three to help me overcome some of this troubling image?”
The daily grind and apathy have a way of showing up on our physical appearance as we grow older. The effects of time, stress, worry, fatigue, lack of sleep and activity, good living and a big dose of gravity become the enemies of our maturity. I realize that I am not going to live forever in this physical body (praise God) but does the cadence of time have to be so obvious? I still feel great and thanks to God and good genetics am in overall great health yet the image I see in the mirror reflects what others perceive as well about me physically. However does it reflect who I am emotionally, mentally, and spiritually? I wonder what others do see, especially those of my children’s generation. Do they just see an older guy who has suffered the affects time and probably has values, beliefs and ideas to match his outdated physical nature? Or do they see someone who has wisdom, knowledge, experience, and a desire to share and transfer valuable life lessons and hope to them so they may have a better future?
As I stood staring at that comparative stranger looking back at me in the mirror God suddenly used this as a teaching and growing moment for me. What if we, I, all of us as the Church were to stand in front of a mirror and compare ourselves to what we looked like when we were younger. Knowing that as a Church the body we are now over 2000 years old how much different do we look now than in the beginning and what are the obvious things we see about ourselves? More importantly what do others see? Do they see an old, outdated body and perceive a system of faith, beliefs, and values that are just as outdated? Do they see a living vibrant body full of love, grace, mercy, hope, and peace that is willing to give away all it has so that those who follow can have hope for a better life here and now and eternal life beyond?
As I continued to stand there taking all this in and allowing God to use this as a teaching moment, I suddenly realized that what I was seeing is exactly what the mirror was reflecting. The mirror was not changing my appearance or exaggerating what it reflected, it isn’t capable of lying or deceiving about the reflection it presents. Nope that mirror was showing the real me as others perceive me. The only way for others to truly know who I am inside and what I am really all about is to allow them to look inside, experience me as a person, to understand that my lifestyle and personality are not necessarily synonymous with my age.
As I went on through my day the lesson of the mirror continued to be a source of study and thought. I really wanted to understand the lesson God was trying to teach me, completely! I absolutely did not want to have to repeat this class. My lesson started with a simple look into a mirror which developed into a series of lessons about growth and maturity through which God revealed many truths about me and more significantly His Church, and me as a part of that body. The theme of this lesson seemed to be how we individually and as the body of Christ have developed into what and who we are today. Most importantly was the understanding of how the Church is reflected in the mirror of society and culture versus how we are reflected in the mirror of truth, God Himself. The reflection from the mirror of culture and society is an issue of perception. The other is a reflection of fidelity and the genetics or DNA of who we are in Christ as reflected and examined by the true mirror image of our creator.
So are you willing to take a look into the mirror with me? Are we as the Church willing to look into the mirror of our creator and determine if our image is that of our bridegroom Jesus Christ? Are we willing to have our DNA examined and determine if our genetics have been altered and if so, what can we do to regain our fidelity to the original source of our structure and being, God? More important is what are we willing to do about those areas that need realignment and improvement? Do we just have some wonderful plastic surgery done to hide and alter the troubled spots? Or do we invest ourselves in a commitment to evaluation, exercise, proper diet, and corrected lifestyle to achieve genuine health and improvement at the cellular level? The process may be painful and cost us much in time, commitment, and sacrifice. The real question is if we don’t, what will we look like in another ten years, twenty years, and what will the cost be for the generations to come?