When you live in the same place for a long time, it becomes your baseline for normal. Noisy planes overhead become commonplace background noise. The squeaky stairs are just part of your life, and you don’t notice them anymore.
Recently, when I moved to a new house, I got a chance to relearn all those “baseline” factors, and one really threw me for a loop: my bathroom mirror.
The house I used to live in was lovely, but because of the way it was situated, the house didn’t get a ton of light. That included the bathroom. I never really cared or noticed how dark that bathroom was until I moved to a house where the bathrooms have lots of sunny windows and multiple overhead lights.
The first time I got ready in my new, bright bathroom, I was shocked. I washed my face and could see every pore! Had I developed wrinkles overnight? My skin looked totally different in the literal light of day. I was cringing and reevaluating my skin care regimen when I started to do my makeup—and stopped, appalled. Had my foundation always been such a bad match for my skin?!
Is that what I REALLY look like?!
I was embarrassed. For years I had been walking around thinking I looked one way, when my well-lit mirror showed me a different view than I expected. Even though on one level I was a little ashamed, I was grateful that I finally had the crystal clear truth; I could adjust my actions accordingly.
God’s Word is like my sparkling mirror. The Bible is a fountain of truth, and sometimes when we open its pages, we don’t like what we see! We like to walk around thinking we look like a pretty good Christian, but the Bible clearly states, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18,19). All humans are sinful and deserve the darkness of hell as payment for the ways we go against God’s holy laws daily.
That truth rightfully makes us feel guilty and ashamed—but thanks be to God, that’s not where the truths of the Bible stop! While the mirror of the Bible shows us our sin in shocking clarity, it also shows us our mighty Savior, Jesus, and distinctly records how God saved us from our sins through the work of his Son, who lived and died perfectly as our substitute.
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all,” shouts 1 John 1:5. Though we are dark people living in a dark world, the light of God’s Word pierces through all confusion, guilt, and shame to tell us we are saved, treasured, redeemed, and have a place in heaven with him forever when we die.
When we have the crystal clear truth of God’s Word, we can adjust our lives accordingly. Even though we can never be perfect, when we are motivated by the fact that we are forgiven sinners, our lives start to look different. We leave behind old, dark behaviors and exchange them for living as God’s children—children of light—as it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:4,5: “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.”
Turn on the light, and look in the mirror. What do you see?
I hope through the light of Scripture you can see the wrinkles of your sin. I hope you can feel a little guilty about it but give those regretful feelings to God, whose forgiveness knows no bounds. I hope that through the power of the Holy Spirit you can turn from your old habits, your dark reflection, and see yourself as God sees you as outlined in Ephesians 5:27—without any stain or wrinkle or blemish but holy and blameless, his radiant Church, holy and perfectly loved.
Christian, THAT’s what you look like.