It’s morbid, and perhaps a bit shocking, but thinking about my guilt and failure actually comes a lot easier than dwelling on the glories of Christ. I sometimes think I am hardwired to fixate on ME. Even my heart-probing, sin-detecting, motive-examining thoughts can turn into morbid introspection or expressions of self-centeredness. Funny thing is, no matter how long I look at my ugliness in the proverbial mirror, I don’t change. It is crucial to look in the mirror and see what is there. It’s biblical.
James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
So how do I get from looking to doing? I think one way is to turn from myself to beholding my Savior, Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
This is hard to sustain in everyday life. It makes sense that the world and the enemy of our soul would conspire with our flesh and do everything to keep us from what will really motivate and result in lasting change for the glory of God. In writing this, I am reminding my own soul of what I am all too quick to forget. It is a struggle to remember to read the Bible for what it says about God and the story of redemption, not just for what it says about me. It is a fight to memorize scripture to call to mind throughout the day. It is a battle to always be reading a Christ centered book to stretch my small mind about His glory. But I have seen the value so strikingly in my life that it is worth the effort regardless of how many times I default back into self-sufficient, self-centered me-ism.
I want to remember the glory of Christ. His glory before He came to earth. The Creator and sustainer of all things. Perfect fellowship with the Father. Perfectly worshiped by the angels. Foretold in every prophesy. Represented in every covenant. The embodiment of all wisdom. The theme of every Psalm.
I want to remember the life of Christ. The Prince of Glory became a man. A helpless baby. A carpenter’s son. I want to remember how many times Jesus responded to the needy who believed. A blind man. Ten lepers. A bleeding woman. A tax collector. A father. A soldier. A harlot. I want to remember how many times Jesus scorned the self-righteous legalist. The pharisee. The rich young ruler. I want to remember how patient Jesus was with His disciples. With James and John’s selfish ambition. With Peter’s denial. With loaves and fish to feed a multitude. With sleeping disciples in His hour of agony.
I want to remember the death of Christ. His humility in washing the disciples’ feet. His struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane. His betrayal. His beating. His crown of thorns. His being nailed to the cross. His cries from the cross. The blood and water that flowed. His resurrection from the dead. His appearance to the disciples. His great commission. His ascension.
I want to remember His present and future glory. He is seated at the right hand of the Father. He is interceding on our behalf. He is ruling and reigning over everything according to His good plan. And one day He will return. One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Angels sing Holy, Holy, Holy. Saints from every time in history and every tongue cry out Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.
I want to remember these things so that when I think of verses like,
“if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (John 1:9),” or
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16),” or
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13),” or
“it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure(Phil 2:13),” or
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us tohis own glory and excellence, (2 Peter 1:3, 4)”, or
“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”(Hebrews 12:1,2) , or
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (from Romans 8)”,
I believe it. And I run from legalistic good works, or from my guilt and shame, or from my idolatry, or spiritual apathy, and I run to my heavenly Father who welcomes me not because I remembered the Savior, but because He remembered the Savior, and sees His righteous blood shed on my behalf.
So hard to sustain in real life. So worth the attempt.