imago Dei: distortions | James 3.5-12
It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue-it's never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
My friends, this can't go on.
A spring doesn't gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don't bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don't bear apples, do they? You're not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you? James 3.5-12 | MSG
Paul says, "We all, with unveiled faces, behold the glory of the Lord as in mirror" - and consequently reflect that image - and ultimately are transformed into that which we reflect (see 2 Corinthians 3:18). The "unveiled" part of this scares us, of course. We're much more comfortable being like Moses and putting on a veil to cover our face lest others "see the glory fading." Who wants to see the face of God with a scowl or a snarl? A face contorted with resentment, reddened with shame, riddled with guilt? Yes, it can be quite a distorted reflection that we offer others of the God we see and seek. Which means it's probably a good thing to remember that "his power is made known in our weaknesses." None of us are perfect "icons" of God, are we? Most of us can readily see ourselves in James' description of that runaway tongue that can't be tamed. Image bearers of God slamming other image bearers. Yes, we do know this. Ancient mirrors were typically, at best, polished metal that at least gave the one gazing into it a general outline and idea of the face peering back at him. Therein lies the core challenge of this brief series: how can we polish the rough exterior of our life so that it reflects an undistorted view of God's face? As Jesus said, the key is cleaning the inside so that the outside also may be pure. This will be our focus these next few weeks - the process of cleaning the inside so that as people see our face they see the face of God reflected back to them. This cleaning process begins when we are impacted by the radical love of God that drives us into life-changing circles of people passionately pursuing the truth of God. When these three qualities come together, the distortions fade, and we become increasingly clear reflections of Hope in a world where hope is in desperately short supply.
Where do you sense the mirror of your life could use some polishing? What is the inner soul work you hear God calling you to? What are your first steps?
God, let your face be reflected in mine, your heart in my heart, your voice in my voice, your touch in every touch of my hand, every movement of my life - whether feeble and faltering or fearless and faithful. Through Christ.