House of Mirrors
I remember going into a house of mirrors at a carnival when I was in high school and what caught my eye most was how I could see myself from all angles. I looked totally different than I presumed I would. Some of the angles I liked, but others I didn’t like. Before I walked in, I had no idea how attractive and unattractive certain perspectives of me could be.
This concept was affirmed years later when my 87 year old barber instructor taught me that no one actually knows what they look like. He explained that the person we see in the mirror is only one of many perspectives. Nonetheless, most people presume everyone else sees them as they see themselves. That is one part of what they see, but the truth is that everyone else has a much better understanding of the way we look because they see us from all angles.
Have you ever looked at a picture someone took of you and hated how you looked in it? Maybe you thought you looked strange. Did you ever wonder why no one else thought you looked strange? That’s because as strange as you think you looked, what you thought was strange everyone else thought was normal. It only offended you because it contradicted your previously held perception.
Like a house of mirrors, being involved in your church and allowing others to speak honestly into your life gives you the chance to understand how others see your behavior. Conversely, coming on Sunday and avoiding genuine fellowship with the rest of the body allows you to maintain your own perception of your character.
Proverbs 18:1 says “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement.”
It is easier to remain as you are and keep believing that you have no ugly sides. It doesn’t feel good when someone points out an area in your life that needs to be improved. If your goal in life is to be attractive to yourself, then carry on, but if you’re a Christian, you should desire purity (1 John 3:3), not the perception of purity.
When we’re eating out, after we’ve finished eating, my wife will look at me and ask if there is anything in her teeth. She gives me the expression of a ravenous wolf and I tell her if I see any food stuck in there. She asks me because she feels most comfortable with me. She asks me because she knows I’ll give her the straight answer. She doesn’t want the answer that will make her feel better, she asks because she wants the truth.
If you want to know if an action or an attitude you have is ugly, you probably have people you trust to ask. The more the merrier. The more perspectives you have, the more likely you will get to the truth of who you are. Some parts of you may be more beautiful than you think. Other parts may need some improvement. You won’t really know, if you don’t get involved.
So if you aren’t already involved in a church-group where others can get to know you and you can get to know them, it’s time to step away from your own mirror. After all, the more people get to know you, the more they can teach you about the way you are. Get to know the church, so you can get to know yourself.
Don’t forget that you add an important perspective as well. You will be able to offer insight that we need the way we will offer insight you need. By pulling away, you may be robbing someone of insight that will help them grow in purity. So, stop isolating! You don’t need to have it all together in church and if you’re human, we already know you’ve got issues because we all have issues. Let’s grow together (Prov 27:17)!
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head running down the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon. Which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.” (Psalm 133)
Fellowship with the body is life in Christ. Unity is not uniformity. We will likely always disagree on something. Unity is a singular commitment to the mission and the people on mission. When Aaron was consecrated for his priestly work, all Israel was united to glorify God by keeping the law. When we dwell together in unity, it produces life like the waters that spring from the base of Mount Hermon and flow down the Jordan River. That river supplies life to all Israel and God equates unity in God’s community to that life-giving stream!
So whether you ease in, jump in, or want to start by getting your toes wet, talk to your pastor about where you can get involved. He’s rooting for you!