Lucian Freud – Self-portrait in a hand mirror (1967)
This article continues my series on spiritual disciplines titled “Why Men Need Discipline.”
Today’s article is called “We Always Reflect Something”
and addresses a question all Christians should ask themselves: “Do I always reflect who Christ is?” Spiritual disciplines help us to be able to answer that question with “YES!”
We Always Reflect Something
How long has it been since you looked at yourself in a mirror? I mean, really looked at yourself? I tried it today and was startled. As I stared at myself I began to see things that I just simply overlook most of the time. Some of the things I saw were good. Some were not! It was those “nots” that I wished were not there. So, being a man of supreme and extreme logic (chuckle, chuckle), I closed my eyes and “wished” those “nots” were not there. I opened my eyes and guess what? They were still there. I just couldn’t wish away part of my reflection. It is what it is.
Whether we like it or not, whether we agree to it or not, as we live our lives, as we interact with people, as we make choices and engage in relationships, we always reflect something. And, that “something” is what is inside of us. We reflect what is in our hearts. We reflect what is in our minds. We reflect what is really important to us.
Sometimes what I reflect isn’t very pretty (and I’m not just talking about my face). My words can be harsh. My temperament can be inpatient. My values can be skewed. My goals can be selfish and prideful. None of those things is Christ-like.
If asked, I would never “choose” to reflect such things. But, unfortunately, at times that’s what people see from me and in me. That’s the thing about reflections — they show what IS, not what we WISH.
“A New Command I Give You”
When you became a Christian, you also became an ambassador for Christ. The “world” should be able to look at you and see who Christ is. I am using the word “should” on purpose because ambassadorship is one of things you are committing to when you decide to follow Christ. One of the ways that God shows Himself to people is through His people — through His disciples. And, Jesus tells us what the world should see:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
We reflect Christ when we love. When we love, people see Jesus.
The Bible describes “love” as being patient and kind, as not self-serving, as having a spirit of forgiveness and gentleness, and as doing what is right even when it is difficult to do so. Love is honoring and protecting our wives. Love is raising our children to know the Lord. Love is caring for the widow, the orphan and the disenfranchised. Love is feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoner, and clothing the naked. The Bible tells us that “God IS love” (1 John 4:8).
Spiritual Discipline Helps Us Make Christ Visible
Oh, is that all? All we have to do is just love everybody all of the time? Obviously, the problem is that none of us naturally is all of those things all of the time. In fact, it is in our nature to war against such things much of the time. That’s where spiritual discipline comes in.
Spiritual disciplines help us make Christ’s loving characteristics supreme in our lives. For example, attending corporate worship reminds us of who is God (God) and who is not (us). Learning to react appropriately and Godly in situations by controlling our tempers and our speech reminds us that our lives are about more than our immediate desires. Regularly meeting with other men in Christian fellowship provides opportunities for rebuke and encouragement so that we will stay motivated to do what is right. Actively and intentionally serving others reminds us that we are to be servants first.
When we regularly and continually engage in those types of spiritual disciplines, as well as others, God uses them to mold our hearts and shape our thoughts. Our minds and hearts actually start to become more Christ-like as we “train” to be Christians, and soon we begin to “reflect Christ” to the world.
The Bottom Line
Being a Christian is a wonderful gift from God. It is also an awesome responsibility. Who we are to the people of this world shows what we really believe and who we really follow. Our actions and our words reflect what is in our hearts and minds.
Jesus Christ was the most influential person who ever lived, and is the most influential person living today. Are you preparing yourself so that you always reflect who He really is? Or are you just leaving your reflection to chance?
Ask at least three people in your life (if you are married, make one of those of people your wife) to make a list of the qualities you REALLY reflect. You will have to give them permission to be completely honest and promise them that you will not hold anything they say against them. Be prepared to be a little hurt because there will be some things on those lists that you probably won’t expect (remember my looking in the mirror) and that will not be very Christ-like.
Once you receive your list, make a plan to engage regularly in at least two more of the spiritual disciplines we previously discussed in What is a Spiritual Discipline, Anyway? Then watch how God begins to change the things on your lists that are not reflective of who Christ is.