Who Do They See?

"Is this what I look like?" That may have been the question our ancestors asked after they first looked into a still pool of water, or some other shiny object. Mirrors have been with us for thousands of years going back to the bronze age. The typical silvered-glass mirror many of us have in our homes dates back 200 hundred years to its beginning in Germany. Today, we routinely use this invention in our everyday lives. We utilize mirrors for personal grooming, to decorate our homes, and to enable safe driving. Photographers use them. Doctors and dentists perform procedures using mirrors. Scientists use them in telescopes and lasers. They come in all shapes and sizes!

There are several Bible passages that speak of mirrors and draw out lessons from reflection. Paul said that we lack understanding because "we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror" (1 Corinthians 13:12).  

I recently got a good look at myself, but it wasn't through the reflection of a mirror. Our local medical community provides data on each of its patients through an app that can be conveniently accessed on a smart phone. Whenever we go to the doctor, the visit is documented and this information is uploaded to a website from which we can read everything the professionals have recorded about our visits, test results, surgical procedures or treatment therapies. 

This resource is quite comprehensive, detailed and insightful. Sometimes it is humorous, too! In reading through 45 documents with a wealth of information, I found out things I wished I didn't know. I have some 21 different areas my doctors are tracking! However, I liked reading some of the other observations such as, Mr. Keppler is a "cooperative and pleasant 69-year-old. He is alert and oriented to person, place and time." Good to know! Then, the doctors got a little personal... "Chest is symmetrical. Abdomen is soft and not tender." This one made me laugh... "His gait, range of motion, and strength is within normal limits." I thought at first they were describing a horse! I can't recall ever having anyone evaluate my "gait" as if I was a Missouri Fox Trotter!! 😁

There were other observations that bordered on untrue or inaccurate... "His back in straight." Anyone who has seen a true picture of me can readily detect that I am slump-shouldered. I have been this way since my teen years and can remember my mother repeatedly saying, "Mike, straighten up! Hold your head up and get your shoulders back!" One doctor said this, "He denies unintentional weight loss. He did have weight loss, but it was intentional." I'm not sure what this means, but I can say that I exercise daily, although I have never been on a diet!

My pulmonary doctor wrote this..."He wakens feeling rested and refreshed and denies daytime sleepiness." That was not completely accurate. Actually, I remember telling her, "I sometimes fall asleep during the evening news because the commentator's voice is so smooth and comforting." This is personal because I can remember many parishioners in the past who used this very line as an excuse for sleeping through my sermons!

What do you see when you look in a spiritual mirror or take stock of your life? Perhaps more importantly, who do others see when they look at you? The Danish philosopher, theologian and existentialist, Soren Kierkegaard, took the parable of the mirror in James 1:22-25, and made this observation, "The fundamental purpose of God's word is to give us true self-knowledge; it is a real mirror, and when we look at ourselves properly in it we see ourselves as God wants us to see ourselves" (https://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/174976.pdf

The writer of the Proverbs says, "As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person" (Proverbs 27:19 NLT). Jesus examines and knows the hearts of men and women. On the final day of accounting there will be no pretense. The desires of our hearts and the actions of our lives today have eternal consequences. Paul was clear about it all, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done, whether good or evil" (2 Corinthians 5:10).

May our hearts be so genuinely rooted in Christ that everything others see in us "reflects the real person," the person reflecting Jesus Christ in us!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor, 
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com

[Photo credit: Andre Mouton, unsplash.com]









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