Saturday, April 9, 2005

Glory in the Looking Glass

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? James likens the perfect law of liberty to a mirror. The law of liberty is the Good News of Jesus Christ, for He is the one who has fulfilled (perfected) the law of God on our behalf. It is a law of freedom, not of bondage. The law of liberty is the law of the Spirit, for where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).

The law of liberty is the law of love, for Jesus summed up all the commandments of God with this: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind… You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). Love fulfills the law of God: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:14).

The law of liberty is a mirror for us, if we have received the Lord Jesus Christ. When we look into it, we can see the love of God at work in us, transforming us into the likeness of Christ. But it is not a mirror we can casually glance at and expect to receive any benefit. No, this mirror is one we must take time to behold, to gaze into long and deeply, and with a heart of obedient faith.

The Enigma of Glory
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
We see dimly, at first, and so we must gaze intently. That is how it is now, but Paul says there is also a then. Now we see dimly — it is enigmatic — but then we shall see face to face (literally, looking at the face of the One who is looking at us). Now we know in part, but then we shall know just as we are also known.

Paul adds, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (v. 13). The law of liberty, which is the law of love, is at work in us right now, and so there is a transforming experience as we continue to gaze into this mirror. We become more and more like the God who is love.

Beholding the Glory
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of God. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
When you look into a mirror, do you see the glory of the Lord? If you know Jesus, the Spirit of the Lord lives inside you, and He does not reside there without the glory of the Lord. In fact, you were created and birthed from above, by the Spirit of God, to bear this glory and reveal it to others, to be fully conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).

Give your diligent attention to the law of liberty, the law of the Spirit, the law of love. Believe and obey whatever the Lord makes known to you as you are transformed from glory to glory — ever greater, ever deeper expressions of His goodness. This is the looking glass of glory, and it reveals your identity and your destiny in the God who is love. Gaze intently for the rest of your life.