Friday, April 25, 2008

See More Clearly

I love going to the gym because it is a spectacle of humanity. We are all in there putting our bodies through torture so we can appear less tortuous to other people's eyes.  One of my favorite things in the world is to catch the guys in the gym, and we all do this, looking in the mirror at their newly defined muscles. I will often look around to make sure I won't get caught and then, in a flash of brilliance, I lift my sleeve to reveal my own work of fitness art. "Vanity of vanities!"

Today I was washing my hands and caught another glimpse of myself in the mirror.  Only this time I felt pride well up inside of me concerning how my reflection looked.  I quickly turned away, not wanting to give my pride the fleeting joy it so greedily desires. The Scripture passage in 1 Cor. 13 quickly came to mind; it reads--

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known" (v. 12).

In the day of Paul, mirrors were hard to come by. They would often use a piece of polished metal to observe their own reflection; the best mirrors would be owned by the very wealthy. Paul probably caught a glimpse of himself in the water on occasion, but I doubt he knew his appearance well enough to associate it with his identity.  As he put it, "I have been fully known;" what else did he need than to be known by his good Father?

My culture places the highest premium on outward appearance, ignoring the realities of what makes up a person. When you look in the mirror, what you see is not "you"!  "You" are made up by your personality, character, sense of humor, and a million other non-physical traits. Our culture refuses to believe in God because they cannot see him, but we cannot see one another (see J.P. Moreland)! You don't see me when I pass you by, you see my shell.  "I" am a whole host of traits passed down from my family and developed through years of interaction with others. 

We as believers in the heavenly Father need only look to him for identity (I realize this is much easier said than done). We have been called sons and daughters, heirs, friends, and beloved. I am constantly fighting to remember who I am. I want to avoid being like Narcissus, the son of a god in Greek mythology who obsessed over his reflection and met his demise. Like Narcissus, I am a son of deity; the one true Deity. I only pray I can, like Paul, "look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18). 

1 comment: