Tuesday, June 7

A Perfect Mirror

...we tend to forget that ‘justification by faith’ is primarily the story of God’s faithful actions in the world in his Son, Jesus Christ. It is because God justified himself that we are justified, and only for that reason. It is too easy in our preaching to make ‘faith’ something we do, a work almost, which smuggles in all the dross and anguish of human-centred religion which Luther left behind.

Sometimes I get so worn out with trying to do the right thing, be the right thing, think the right thing, say the right thing and hang with the right people that I forget the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

I manage to screw up with great regularity. Every single blooming day I do at least one thing that violates some scriptural principle, and I can always find at least a dozen books, articles, tapes and radio preachers who are eager to explain - in excruciating detail - why any person who does what I do is (insert condemnatory description here) and certainly perdition-bound.

I keep thinking about that phrase in the letter from James to the church where he says that the person who gazes into the perfect law of liberty and acts based upon what he sees there will be blessed in what he does. I used to think that James was warning us not to forget what scum-bags we are, but now I realize that I had it exactly backwards.

When I gaze into this perfect law of liberty, I see reflected back to me the image of a perfect Man. This is a wonder to me - yet the image in this mirror is in fact what God sees when He looks on me. As I gaze into my "reflection" there in that perfect mirror and ponder what God's gracious work has wrought on my behalf, the glory of it penetrates - however slowly - to the darkest and densest reaches of my heart, and as this "God's-eye-view" of me seeps into my soul, I see myself as God already sees me. A lifetime of gazing into this image changes me - my choices slowly align themselves with the reality of that image.

I can trust that the screwups I assign to myself are not reflections of the real me that God already sees, but are merely the vestigal remains of the old Jack that is already dead but not quite yet fully decayed.

1 comment:

Steve F. said...

As one who is still pretty good at screwups, even after some extended time in the Christian community, I sympathize and empathize.

I only wish my screwups were not nearly so fresh, and the remains of the old Steve more "vestigal" than "typical" of my current life.

Right now, I see so much of the broken "me" that it's hard to even imagine the "perfect" me. I guess that's what they mean by "walking by faith, not by sight," eh?