Have You Looked In the Mirror?
Have you glanced in the mirror today? In our world, it’s almost impossible to avoid. We wake in the morning only to brush our teeth in the shadow of our image. While we fend off cavities and wash our hands we stand face to face with our future. A little older. A little grayer. A little more tired.
We stare at the form in front of us, noticing the deepening laugh lines and creases, and the dark circles that formed after a fitful night of sleep. Each of these observations remind us of new tasks. We really need to sleep more. We need some better concealer. We should use sunscreen more. The list goes on and on.
We can’t escape our reflection even as we leave our bathroom in the morning. A passing car door reveals our silhouette. How are my clothes fitting? My stomach is too big. Better suck it in. A glance at our face shining out from our cell phone or the small corner square in our video chat remind us to pay attention to what needs to be altered. Oh no, a stray hair. A piece of food. Does my face always look like that? I should smile more. We spend our days surrounded by our faces splashed back at us, constantly reminded of what to change and how to better ourselves.
Throughout our history, mirrors have always been prized. In ancient Japan they were deemed sacred. The Greeks held mirrors as precious objects. In the 17th century, one countess remarked, “I had a nasty piece of land that brought in nothing but wheat; I sold it and in return I got this beautiful mirror. Did I not work wonders–some wheat for this beautiful mirror?” 1
The prize of mirrors now fills our world with our reflection and, like our ancestors before us, we can’t bear to look away. Yet with so many opportunities to improve our appearance, why are we not satisfied? Why do we leave our reflections dejected and with continued critique? The looking glasses that reveal our image only shovel on more work–not rest, contentment, and peace.
To find the latter, we must seek out a very different kind of mirror.
The Mirror of the Scriptures
The Reformers often detailed three different uses of Scripture. The first use described the law of God as a mirror for its reader. And it is a perfect mirror, yet so very different from the ones we find throughout our day.
When we open up God’s word we see who we are. We’re created beings in the image of our God, yet we rejected him. We exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images. We worshipped the creature instead of the Creator (Rom. 1:22,1:25). We read that we are like sheep that have gone astray from our Shepherd (Isa. 53:6). We find that no one is exempt. We are all slaves to sin, and our future is death (Rom. 3:10;6:23)
We see this dark reflection through each page of Scripture.
We see our pride shine out of Adam, our jealousy mirrored in Cain, our manipulation and doubt displayed in Abraham. We see our selfishness take root in the Israelites, and our desire for success and notoriety in their kings. We see our forgetfulness, our disrespect, and our tendency to wander from our Father in the Word of God.
The Bible shows us this humble reflection, but this mirror isn’t one we can use to freshen up. We can’t pull our selfishness back in a ponytail. We can’t suck in our jealousy. As hard as we try, no amount of effort on our own part can change the reflection before us. The image isn’t there to spur us to improvement.
Instead this mirror convinces us we need someone other than the face looking back at us. We need someone outside ourselves to rescue us. And that someone did. The Creator we pushed away came and gave his life for us. He took his perfect reflection—his perfect life of obedience—and he exchanged it for our filthy one (Rom. 5:19). He bought us and called our dirty reflections his own, before we did any primping or adjusting (Rom. 5:8).
Now as sinners saved by faith, we can go to the mirror of Scripture and we see someone else looking back at us. We see something beautiful. We see the image of who we are because of the work of Christ.
But once again, this image is different. We still can’t add to it. We won’t make it more beautiful, more lovely, or more pure, because it already is infinitely perfect. It’s the image of a daughter. It’s the image of a son, bought by the blood of Christ (Rom. 8:15). It’s the image of an heir of the sovereign God (Rom. 8:17).
In the mirror of God’s Word we find we are now a royal priesthood, a chosen people belonging to God (1 Pet. 2:9). There’s nothing for us to fix in this reflection, because we didn’t create it to begin with. This reflection moves us to worship–not our image–but the one who made the reflection whole again. It beckons us to gaze upon our Savior, who clothed us with his righteousness.
Gazing At Our Reflections
We feel the tension of both reflections at the same time. We might see the image of who Christ has made us to be in the pages of Scripture, but we know our actions don’t always align with it. Yet we need both reflections.
We need to gaze at them again and again lest we forget. We gaze not in an effort to body check and make ourselves more lovely, but rather in order to acknowledge what God has done for us. We look at who we were, and who we are because of Christ’s work.
When we study the mirror of the Bible, it realigns our reality. We see the grace of our God reflecting out at us. We realize we now live by the Spirit who gives us life, and by that Spirit we can live out our new reality—to walk in a manner worthy of such a reflection (Rom. 8:9). We can then “present ourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life” (Rom. 6:13). Because our mirror reminds us that’s exactly what has happened.
Today as you catch a glimpse of your reflection and begin to tuck in your shirt or slick back those stray hairs, I hope you stop to think about the mirror that doesn’t ask us to strive for the impossible. I hope you remember the mirror that offers rest in the life, death, and resurrection of your Savior.
Have you glanced in that mirror today? Open up its pages to remember who you are. Gaze on the reflection before you—for this mirror will show you far more than your own likeness. It shows the incredible glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. It tells the story of what he has done. And that mirror is surely far greater than any field of wheat or any treasure on earth.