love mirrors. We really do, but not always. On my good day, when I look
‘stunning’, I want to stare at the mirror over and over again. I love what I am
looking at. I guess that goes for you too. The mirror in a sense gives us
hope—that we still got ‘skin in the game’.
there is another side to the mirror. This side we don’t like. It is the fact
that the mirror does not lie. And why would it? I can’t think of any reason why
the mirror would tell me what is not. Because there is always a side to us that
we don’t like that much, we surely frown when it’s mirrored.
tell you how many times I have looked into the mirror and I do not like what I
see. But that doesn’t change a thing. Even if I stamped my foot on the ground
in protest, the mirror will not be moved. It will still do its job—show me the
is a mirror God has given us so that through it we will see who we are—the
broken mirror—the mirror of God’s creation. But there is something about this
mirror, we don’t like it. Unlike the mirrors hanging on our bathroom walls,
this one—we believe—has a lot of reasons to be conspiratorial. But why? Someone once said that “We can’t
handle the truth.”
broken mirror is in the bible and around us. We read about it and walk by it
almost every day.
In Adam, his desire to be his own god and his
desperate need to cover what he feels uncomfortable with about himself. In Cain,
blaming his unworthy worship on someone else and later killing them for it. In Abraham,
his desperate need to lie in order to save his skin. And what about looking for
answers elsewhere apart from God—including in Hagar the Egyptian slave girl? In
Jacob, the cunningness in taking what does not belong to him and then choosing
who to give his love to and who to exclude from it. In Moses, taking matters
into his own hands and then thinking not about the consequences of his actions.
In Gideon, his fear, lack of faith and the need to see ‘proof’ amidst the proof
of assurance from God that He is with him. In Samson, seeking pleasure outside
his God-ordained confines. In David, wanting more at the cost of other people’s
lives. In Peter, selling out when he should have known better. The story goes
on and on.
these characters and more are for us, not to idolize but see ourselves through
them—specifically through their brokenness. We are Adam, Moses, Cain, Abraham,
Jacob, Gideon and all of them. We are just as broken as they were—if not worse.
Their story is our story. Their mess is our mess. Their idolatry is our
idolatry. Their adultery is our adultery. Their self-salvation is our self-salvation.
Because the sin which ravaged their day, is the same sin still breaking our
backs to this day.
are not for us to draw great examples from but, first and foremost, for us to
see and acknowledge our desperation and dire need of God’s inexhaustible grace.
They are for us a mirror to see what God sees: “that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his
heart was only evil continually (Genesis. 6:5, KJV).” And that: “The heart
is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
(Jeremiah. 17:9, KJV)”
also goes for the people in our lives. Those we meet at the train station
wishing that a puff of cigarette smoke will fade away their worries into
obscurity; that single mother standing in the line inside a bank hall thinking
about the last time her cheque bounced; that fifteen year old sitting across
the column in the classroom contemplating what his life will be like after his
parents’ divorce is finalized; that father in the church sitting in the cold pew
wishing that he will once again talk to the mother of his children who has been
on life support for the last 90 days; that teenage girl in a dark corner
abusing drugs because the memory of her being sexually abused at the age of
seven is still fresh her mind; that woman in front of a motel trying to sell herself
to the highest bidder in order survive another day or quench a sex addiction;
that corporate executive sitting in a dark corner of a bar, while trying to
drink away all the besetting inadequacies of his actions.
this, the broken mirror shows us. But it does more than show us the brokenness
in and around us. Its mirroring goes deeper to influence us in a way so defiant
than anything else can.
broken mirror erases the dividing line of categorization. It wipes away the
classifications of ‘us’ and ‘them’. It echoes in our ears the voice of God
through his beloved but broken apostle saying, “For there is no distinction: for all
have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans. 3: 22b-23, ESV).” This
mirror, broken by sin, levels the playing field. In a sense, to say that:
“There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’ but ‘us’ and ‘Him’—God.”
we start to draw distinctions, we blind ourselves to what we really are—broken.
And so grace extended to those who have acknowledged their brokenness becomes
an offence to us. The Pharisees closed the door of God’s free grace on
themselves when they thought they were better than Zaccheaus, or the woman
caught in adultery on the basis of their ‘moral standing’. One time I had
someone ask me why I went to visit a person she labeled ‘not a good example’
and went on to list her sins to me, one by one. When we do this, we quench the
fire of desperation which would have drawn us to the table of grace but instead
draws us away from it. We stop to believe what we see in the broken mirror.
Jonah came to learn this the hard way when he wrote: “Those who cling to
worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” (Jonah 2:8, NIV)
is another thing. The broken pieces of this mirror are not to be thrown away;
they are to be embraced for they compel us. They compel us to love, accept,
approve of people we may otherwise think of as not being like us. Because the
dividing line is no more, grace has been ushered in. And so we love them
because we are not any better (even when the world wants to make us believe
otherwise). This mirror is God’s creation, a symbol of His love for a fallen
people that is why it compels us. John, the apostle knows why: “We love him,
because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).”
this brokenness, there is good news. God is committed to transforming this
broken mirror into something good (2 Corinthians. 3:18) and one day there will
be a new mirror (Revelation. 21:5). No more shall we have a broken mirror but a
perfect one, with no spots of sin. Why? Listen to Paul:
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do
not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the
knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. That ye might
walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work,
and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according
to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving
thanks unto the Father, which hath made
us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath
delivered us from the power of darkness,
and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of
sins: (Colossians 1: 9-14).
whisper of our brokenness is not His last word but His first. His last word is
that our brokenness is not the end. That through Him, and by Him alone, this
brokenness has been overcome. He traded bondage for freedom at the expense of
His beloved son. For you and me so that we will now look at the brokenness not
as a barrier but as a gateway to a life of scandalous joy and exceeding
freedom, and even surprising faithfulness! Because everything we need has been
freely deposited on our account, we go out not to take anything but to give
“For I am persuaded, that
neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things
present, nor things to come. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our
Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39 (KJV).