When I get my hair cut, the barber at some point will hand me a mirror so I can let them know if I am satisfied with how my hair looks. I seldom have any complaints or suggestions. Sometimes I will tell them that I’m not much of a “mirror” person. I’m not sure what my hair should look like. Isn’t this what they are supposed to know?
For some of us, mirrors are not very friendly. Mirrors reveal too much truth about our thinning hair, our aging skin, and our failure at our latest attempt to lose weight. The mirror is not my friend if I am looking for compliments. On the other hand, doesn’t a good friend tell you the truth?
In researching ideas for our current worship series, Food as medicine, I enjoyed learning about a program developed by some folks at Saddleback Church in Southern California. The lead pastor at Saddleback is Rick Warren. Rick’s rise to fame accelerated when he published his book, The Purpose Driven Life, which I read 17 years ago when it was first published in 2002.
A couple years ago, the leadership at Saddleback launched a church-wide program, complete with books, videos, small groups, and a host of other resources, called the Daniel Plan. It was not a coincidence that God sent me to this library of resources. Collaboration on how God is working in the world is crucial to building the kingdom.
So, I need not lay claim to any of the ideas on how a community can go about achieving health and wellness. I learn from people all around the world as God leads me to the sources of inspiration that help to shape my own faith, and the stories that I share with others that I hope will inspire them as well.
In chapter 7 of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he shares with us some familiar information about the human condition. This should sound familiar. Paul writes, “No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t. When I want to do good, I don’t; and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway” (Romans 7:18b-19).
No matter which way I turn I can’t make myself do right. I want to but I can’t. When I want to do good, I don’t; and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway.
This is a common problem, isn’t it? So much so, that this alone keeps a lot of people away from the church. “Why do I want to feel worse about myself?” is a common excuse. For a lot of us, the church is the mirror problem. We don’t want to be reminded that we have blemishes. And we definitely don’t want to be told that we can’t do anything about it. Or can we?
Paul is building interest in this part of his letter by appealing to something we all have in common. Unless we are in denial, we know that not a day goes by when we will manage to do something that we know we shouldn’t do. From overeating to lying, our will power is weaker than the temptations around us. It’s no wonder, so many of us hate mirrors.
The answer is faith. Jesus was human like us. God wants us to know that it is not about what we see in the mirror that matters. While mirrors tell us when our hair is the length we prefer, mirrors reflect only the surface. It is not what we see in the mirror that matters. So what does matter?
Paul writes in chapter 8 of Romans that by faith, the Holy Spirit helps us with the problems that we face every day. The Holy Spirit also helps us with prayer. Most of us realize that we don’t even know what we should pray for or how to pray. But that’s ok. The Holy Spirit prays for us.
And God already knows. God not only understands but is working behind the scenes to make sure that everything that happens to us works together for our good and according to a divine plan. Faith is about trusting that God has our back. Even when we are surrounded by difficulty. Also, when we cannot do what we shouldn’t do and do what we should do.
So mirrors aside, Paul ends this chapter of his letter, telling us that there is nothing that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God. And Paul makes his case for this fact by reminding us that God lived among us and died so that we could have life now and forever. God demonstrated an unfailing love that is beyond our capacity to grasp.
It is not who you see in the mirror. Life is about who you choose to mirror. And we can reflect the love of God only by the power that God gives us through the Holy Spirit.
Nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.
Last week I asked you to commit to two things over the next few weeks. First, find a way to fast. Give up something that you will miss. And, commit to praying when you see yourself missing whatever you gave up.
Don’t lean on your own power to do this, however. If you do, you will fail every time. Instead, lean on your faith in Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit will empower you. Over the weeks to come we will all learn more about the Daniel Plan, and how we can use the resources provided to help us all to live healthier and more satisfying lives.
We worship each Sunday at 10:30 am. I believe that God is calling you to join us. Come and participate in worship, not as a spectator, but as someone who belongs to God. I lead a short Bible study in the Asbury Café at 9:30 am. You can find more information about us on our website at FlintAsbury.org.