Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:23-25 NIVGod's word is indeed a mirror for those who actively seek self-knowledge from God's all-knowing perspective. And once they see their true selves in comparison to God's perfection, they have only two courses of action to take: Evasion and denial, or conviction and repentance. Common sense tells us that if we tailor our lives according to our personal dreams, appetites and self-image, happiness will reward us. The apostle James' beautiful promise at the end of verse twenty-five, however, counters our fallen nature's wisdom: But doing it(looking intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continuing to do this)--he will be blessed in what he does. I picture the little kid who, having climbed into a tree, tries to let himself down to the ground. He hangs on the lowest limb, toes desperately feeling for terra firma, unable to see the ground three inches directly below him. He clings to his personal perspective, which, in the view of a bystander who can see the true situation, seems completely silly. All that little fella needs to be happy is to know the truth, but incomplete information prevents it. Everyone wants happiness. In fact, though our Declaration of Independence guarantees us the right to pursue happiness, no one but God can actually promise happiness. He bases those promises on our willingness to obey the rules and principles he has established based on his perfect knowledge. We laugh at the poor sap who can't drag himself away from his natural image in a mirror, but think we're perfectly justified in basing our quest for happiness on our own faulty, jealously guarded self-image. What gorgeous irony.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall
Have you ever seen people who seem fascinated by their image in a mirror? You can stand there conversing with them, and all the while their eyes are glued(figuratively) to their image in the mirror. It's as if they are afraid they might forget what they look like. Jesus' little brother must have known someone like that.