Wednesday, May 1, 2013

IT'S TIME TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR


Keith and I sat on the back porch Monday night with one of our best friends.
At first, we were just catching up on life and laughing as Miles ran around the yard naked as a jay bird.  (That kid is crazy funny!)

Then, as usual, we tried to solve the world's problems.
By the end of the evening, we came to the same conclusion we always do... Jesus.

He really is the answer to all our problems.

And that got me thinking.
If the answer is really that simple (and it is), then why do we try and complicate it?

What would our lives, marriages, families, churches, cities, country and world be like if we asked ourselves this simple question every day

How accurately do I reflect Jesus?

In the last nine months, God has completely wrecked me!
I've been studying His Word chronologically, desperate for Him to speak to me, desperate for Him to reveal Himself to me, desperate for Him to pull me out of the pit I found myself in, and He was faithful to all that and much more!

In the time that it takes God to grow life inside a mother's womb, God breathed new life in me.

Since I've been studying the Bible chronologically, I've spent most of the last nine months in the Old Testament. And can I just say, I'm in love. We were created by a God who wants desperately to have a personal relationship with us. He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden. He had Moses build a tabernacle so He could dwell in their midst (Exodus 25:8). When sin entered the world, He immediately had a plan of redemption so that we could come to Him through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus. And when we trust Him as Lord and Savior, He sends His Spirit to dwell in us.

A close, personal, intimate relationship is what the God of the universe, your Creator, desires to have with you.

Through studying the life of Abraham, I learned that 40-50 years had passed between the time God made His first covenant (promise) with Abraham to the time God told him to sacrifice Isaac. I used to be and awe of Abraham's faith. He trusted God in ways I couldn't even imagine. But when I really read about his journey and walk with the Lord, I was amazed at, not only how many times God tested him, but how many times Abraham failed. It's so comforting to know that I'm not the only one who gets it wrong more that I get it right. Trails are painful, hard and uncomfortable, but the testing of our faith reveals what's in our hearts. God was after Abraham's heart. And God is after yours!

Besides learning about trials, testing and covenants, I also learned a lot about sacrifices. The Old Testament is full of stories of altars being built and sacrifices being made. In a traditional burnt offering, the animal is killed, placed on an altar and burnt. God opened my eyes to what this really meant a few weeks ago at a women's event I attended. We were being taught about the tabernacle and our speaker, Donna Gaines, explained that when a sacrifice was made, the sacrifice was completely consumed.

Burnt up.
Nothing left.
Gone.

When we are told by Paul to offer ourselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) and to be crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20), he is telling us to completely die to self. To allow God to totally and completely consume us in such a way that there is nothing left of us.

NOTHING!

A dead person doesn't have feelings.
A dead person can't be offended.
A dead person isn't insecure.
A dead person has no rights.
A dead person is just that... DEAD.

God's grace doesn't give you the freedom to do whatever you want and it doesn't mean that you can sit back and do nothing. Our response to grace is that we make ourselves nothing. That everyday, we make a choice to die so that Jesus can live through us. So that we can accurately reflect Jesus to a lost and dying world.

Our study moved to the New Testament the last couple of months and the glaring truth that I can't seem to get over (and I pray I never, ever do!) is the overwhelming compassion of Jesus. There was something about Jesus that made people want to be around him. Jesus could not have been more different from the world, yet sinners were attracted to Him. They hung out with Him. They followed Him.

When I was looking at Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, I was so amazed at how careful Jesus balanced love and truth. Not only did He reveal to her who He was, but He revealed to her who she was... a sinner in desperate need of a Savior! And what did she do? She ran into town and told the people to come and meet a man who just told her everything that she ever did.

Jesus doesn't make you feel shame.
Jesus doesn't make you feel hopeless.
Jesus makes you feel loved!
Jesus sets you free!

And then, if you skip ahead a few chapters, John tells us the story of the woman who was caught in adultery. There is no one more compassionate toward sinners than Jesus. He was the only one there without sin. The only one who could have cast the first stone. And yet, he didn't. He is infinitely gracious and merciful.

Jesus.
Gracious. Kind. Gentle. Compassionate. Merciful. Loving. Good.

I can only reflect Jesus if I'm dead.
If I'm living in the flesh, I reflect me.

The pride you see in me is ALL me- it's not Jesus!
The jealousy you see in me is ALL me- it's not Jesus!
The selfishness you see in me is ALL me- it's not Jesus!
The unforgiveness you see in me is ALL me- it's not Jesus!
The insecurity you see in me is ALL me- it's not Jesus!
The critical spirit you see in me is ALL me- it's not Jesus!

Whether we want to admit it or not, our actions, our attitudes, our habits and our words are a window to our hearts. It reveals to the world where your heart is, what you value, who you love and who you are living for.

How accurately do you reflect Jesus...
...to your spouse?
...to your children?
...in your community?
...in your church?
...in your workplace?
...to those who are different than you?
...to those who are mean to you?
...to those who you struggle to love? or even like?
...to those who don't believe what you believe?
...to a lost and dying world?

Today, I am holding up the mirror and looking at the reflection of my heart.
There is too much Jackie and not enough Jesus.

ANY and ALL good in me is not me at all - it's ALL Jesus!