Jesus the Looking Glass
Psychologists tell us the we all have an ego. I realize that we mostly hear the term”ego” in the negative but it really only refers to our view of ourselves: our self-importance and self-worth. Essentially, there is an invisible mirror in our souls that images back a picture of our person as we think we are. For this reason, modern psychology is understandably obsessed with self-esteem or having a healthy view of one’s self. Interestingly, God’s word couldn’t agree more – we need a healthy view of ourselves.
But what if the looking glass of our own self-esteem, ego, and self-worth have been tarnished? What if the mirror has fallen down to the ground and cracked into hundreds of pieces? What if this is true of all mankind? How then can we know what we really look like and how we truly are if we cannot self-assess with very much accuracy? The biblical depiction of mankind is that we are broken, marred, and our minds are darkened and sullied (Romans 3:9-18). Our ability to grasp our image as we truly are has become splintered and covered over with the film of sinfulness. For this reason what we see reflected back is over-inflated, exaggerated, and most certainly out of proportion to reality. Simply put, we think more highly of ourselves than we ought.
I don’t want to chase a rabbit trail here but let me stop and assert something: even those with “low self-esteem” are culprits of self-inflation and pride. Someone who has a low view of themselves exhibits self-exaltation in many ways: suicide, self-criticism, craving attention all the time from people, etc. An exaggerated ego and low self esteem are both forms of pride in the sight of God. All of our mirrors are broken! None of us really see ourselves rightly.
Take the church of Laodicea, for example, in Revelation 3:14-22. In v. 17 the church has assessed themselves, “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.” It is true that the city of Laodicea was independently wealthy city with healthy commerce and a profound sense of security for the ancient world. Cicero even speaks of the success and vibrancy of their banking system! Truly, this church was blessed in the sight of God! I mean, look at them! What did they lack? Subtly the people in church began to superimpose and even confuse their image of themselves with Christ’s reflection of them. And before you know it they thought, “We must have be doing something right if God is prospering us so!”
This was an ancient world version of a “health, wealth, and prosperity” doctrine it seems; that material blessings were always indicators of God’s blessings in your life. That is, if you are healthy, wealthy, and loved then you have God’s favor on you. You can live your best life now: and this abundance implies your bank account as well as your health. That’s how you feel, after all, when things are going your way: that God must be shining down on you with favor.
That may be how they felt…even what they really believed about themselves. But they weren’t gazing in the right looking glass. They we’re holding themselves up a very bright light.
In v. 14 Jesus introduces himself to this church with, “The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.” We use the word “amen” much more flippantly than the Hebrews used the word. The word was meant to convey immutable truthfulness. So when you said “amen”, you said, “Let it be fixed and unaltered.” In v. 14 it is personified. Jesus is embodiment of unmoved, unaltered, and unchanging truth. Moreover, he is faithful. There is no shadow or crack of deceit in his person. Further, he is the true witness. In modern language, we might say, “He’s going to tell it like it is!” Finally, he is the Alpha of creation. The Hebrew concept of firstborn focused on the position of importance. The firstborn was considered to be the rightful inheritor of the family blessings as well as the name-bearer who carried on the family name. Simply put, Jesus was the rightful Son who carried on his Father’s family line.
Now I would ask all of us, which mirror do we think is going to show us reality, truth, and detailed accuracy concerning who we are? Where are we going to look to see ourselves as we truly are? Are we still going to look within or to Jesus, the perfect looking glass for mankind? He shows us both what we ought to be before God and what we are apart from Him?
As it turns out, Laodicea was none of those things they thought they were. They were far off. In fact, they were: “Wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked (v. 17 b).” It wasn’t a flattering view. Jesus’s light shown on every blemish and imperfection and they saw themselves in full Ultra High Definition before his glory. They saw beneath the makeup and cover.
But unlike a regular mirror that only reveals imperfections and blemishes, Jesus takes it a step further and offers to fix those ugly things we try to mask. He corrects our self-assessment which allows us a chance to truly be lovely before God. I’ve heard and repeated the phrase often, “God loves you as you are but he loves you too much to leave you as you are.” Jesus spends v. 18 offering the remedy to the soul’s unsightliness and ruin, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.”
Read my prayer is that we would all gaze into this Lord’s perfection and see ourselves as we are! Only then will we see what he wants to make us. How about you? Are you content with a comfortable and well-worn ego? Have you satisfied yourself with an image of your life that “works” for you? Or do you want to truly see yourself as God sees you? I warn you, however, if you look into the mirror that is Christ then be prepared to see some ugly features in your life; features perhaps you never knew existed within you. But also be prepared to receive soul-surgery as he will begin transforming you into the image of the perfect Son of God whose image we were created to wear throughout eternity!