Windows, Mirrors, and the Christian Life
For those of us who have grown up watching children’s television in Australia, and have seen the ABC program Playschool, looking through a window (whether round, square, or arched) is a means of visually expanding our horizon, finding out about something we didn’t know before. Windows often provide us with a glimpse of an unfamiliar world, a realty that was previously hidden from us.
Our technologically advanced world is filled with all manner of electronic ‘windows’ that give us easy access to a new perspective on the world. However, as access to the information through these windows becomes easier and quicker, the world as it is presented to us is increasingly defined in terms of human self-interest, gradually losing the sense of divine mystery.
Of course, those providing us with these ‘windows’ are very willing to provide the accompanying rationalization for the content: why that war is justified, why we need those consumer goods, why that seductive movie should be watched, why a life of material indulgence is so important, and so on.
The world presented to us should not be dismissed lightly. Through constant engagement within this interpreted media dialectic, which determines what and how we think, the difference between fantasy and reality can become so blurred that for many unwitting souls it is virtually indistinguishable. Taken to its logical conclusion then, these windows become little more than mirrors; mirrors in which a self-oriented reality is reflected as an image of its deluded self back onto itself!
But what if there was a window that we could look through; a window untainted by the agendas of false reality and self-delusion that showed us things as they really are? Such a window would seem out of place in the world we have come to experience, and yet the world so desperately needs such a window to shed light its delusional self, to bring in a sense of reality that transcends human self-interest.
When Jesus Christ came into the world he provided such a window; a view into a reality that was ‘not of this world’—a view of the world interpreted in light of God’s kingdom. Jesus also shed light on the world he encountered and exposed it for what it was—a reality of selfish human agendas. Although many were fascinated by his person, what he taught, and what he did; in the end these same people crucified him because he did not fit into and promote the patterns of their artificial reality; that is, he did not seek and promote human power, glory, and riches.
Yet, there were a minority that accepted the reality that Jesus presented, for what it was—the truth. They joyfully embracing Jesus’ humble message, and were saved from the consequences of falsehood, ultimately attaining the eternal life he promised to all who would look into the window of God’s truth.
In Jesus’ material absence, the authentic followers of Christ continue to provide this window into God’s eternal reality. Empowered by the Spirit of God, these genuine followers of Christ bring the truth of Christ’s presence to bear on the world: serving, loving, giving, proclaiming , and revealing Christ as they go. These Christians provide an aperture for God’s kingdom to break into this lost and deluded reality, giving those within it a truly valid alternative, and a hope that this world simply cannot offer.
Nevertheless, the power of the world’s influence is strong, and its proclivity to deceive even Christ’s followers should not be underestimated. Christians, like the rest of hapless humanity, are under constant attack to conform and become mirrors of human self-interest; having the shiny appearance of a divine window but reflecting the vain principles and self-serving values of a fearful world.
Against such a threat, the New Testament apostles offer both encouragements and warnings. John exhorts us, ‘Do not love the world, nor the things of the world’, and by so doing wants us to keep our focus on the father’s agenda that our love for him might to be extinguished by temporal distractions (1 John 2:15-16). James challenges us toward a pure and undefiled religion that sets aside our selfish agendas and by consider the needs of those less fortunate and keeping ourselves uncontaminated by worldly agendas, values, and morals (James 1:27).
Indeed, being faithful to Christ against these challenges is not without cost, as Christ reminds us; if the world hated him for opening the window of God’s truth on its falsehood, they will hate his followers for the very same reason (John 15:18).
The secularizing power and prevalence of the modern world is ubiquitous. Avoiding being overrun by it, whilst simultaneously making a stand for the truth which exposes its falsehood requires nothing less than the power of God. Yet, as authentic Christians, making such a stand is the only real option, because capitulating to this world’s agenda forsakes the only hope of humanity.
If the lost world is to embrace the ‘real’ message of hope that Jesus Christ promotes, they they must know the truth, even if its initial confrontation is painful. In such an endeavor, we should be encouraged by the Apostle John’s words, ‘You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.’ (1 John 4:4 NIV)
It is easy to become a mirror with a religious gloss; a sanctimonious reflection of the world’s values. It requires great fortitude to become an authentic window of Jesus Christ, shining forth the eternal truth and glorious hope offered to this broken world by Him.
In the end, the difference between being a window or a being a mirror comes down to having the courage to allow God’s love and Christ’s abiding presence to boldly shape who you are and the way you interact with others; allowing it to shine through in even the smallest ways.
Which one will you be?