Forgetting what we look like
James 1: 19-27 (NRSV)
19 You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 25 But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
26 If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
In a vain world where image and appearance matter so much, who can believe people look in a mirror and then forget what they look like? But perhaps the mirror is the Scriptures here. That’s certainly the case in the next verse where people stoop over the text of the Bible/the perfect law and then go and put it into practice. They second image is of steadfast study of the word of God which we then put into action in our lives. But what of the idea of looking into the Bible and allowing it to reflect back who we really are. Reflecting back our need of Jesus, our need for salvation, our need for equipping to do God’s work. If the Bible does this, how stupid to then walk away and never ask God to do those things for us — to forget our needs and what we are like. But looking into the mirror of God’s word doesn’t just tell us how bad we are, it tells us we are made in the image of God.
We are made in the image of the creator. We bear that image of creativity, of love, of grace into the world. Don’t forget the image God gives us in the mirror. Study his word and let it confirm that image and then go and share it with those you meet today.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all.
Hey, this is a prayer not a fairy tale. You’re my child. You’re a crown in my hand. I sent my son to show you my love, a love which the darkness doesn’t understand.
Yes, I love you. You’re made in my image. Do you see the creativity sparkling in your eyes as you look into that mirror? Do you see my love in your heart? Do you see my compassion in your acts of love? Do you see my justice in your own search for justice in your community. You’re made in my image – you carry my identity with you where you go. Go and put that into practice.
Don’t you get it? Read your Bible. Read of my love for you and you’ll see. You’ll see it as clear as the nose on your face. You’ll read stories of my love and compassion. Stories of my connection with all people. Stories of justice and redemption and pain. What I want you to do is to do the same. To live the word. To live the image. To be my ambassador in the world.
To bear your image, be your ambassador? Me? Live out my faith in the world? Yes, you’re right. I will!