James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
James mirror reference has reminded me of another important look in the mirror with another Bible friend, Rebekah, from June 12, 2015. That look in the mirror began with a very different emphasis: Genesis 27: 13 “Let his curses be on me, dear son. Just do what I tell you. Go out and get the goats.”
If you’re a parent those words “Just do what I tell you,” may seem very familiar. This time though, they bring to mind how frustrated, manipulative and controlling they sound when I read Rebekah’s words…and they are. I don’t know whether to be consoled by the realization that I am not alone having spoken them or appalled that I didn’t know any better when I uttered them. It seems like a bit of both actually…the flesh and the Spirit locked in their lifelong struggle.
Rebekah is today’s Biblical looking glass for me to see the reality and opportunity found in her example. These are lyrics to a song I wrote in bygone days.
In the mirror I see
Two eyes looking back at me.
Two eyes trying to see
A picture of what I can be.
That’s the flesh part and the reflection is not always pretty but my song goes on…
Won’t you picture God for me my friend?
Won’t you be my mirror when I pretend?
Won’t you help me to see?
That’s the Spirit part. I can’t always see myself clearly. The reality is there are times when only a friend can help me to see.
Some might say Rebekah is just an Old Testament character, long gone, but maybe she’s in the Bible to be that friend for me today. A friend who has the ageless ability to show me how God works even when I’m at my manipulative worst…a Kingdom friend who says: “Look in that mirror once more and see what I’ve pictured for you. This is what ‘not Godless but not Godly either’ can look like. I’ve shown you my humanity so you can recognize it in yourself and choose something better.”
Thank God for these Bible friends. I need them. I don’t always see the reflection of their faith I’d like when I look into the mirror with them but their lives consistently show me one of the most important aspects of my faith: the challenge of recognizing your need. I’m not willing to settle for just being not Godless but not Godly either. I need to look “intently into the perfect law that gives freedom [Jesus]” and continue in it.