Radiolab commented on Abraham Lincoln in one of their programs making the point that Lincoln’s visage in the mirror looked differently than did his appearance to the public. In other words, to Lincoln, he looked uglier and even sinister. To the public, he looked kinder and even ruggedly attractive. That made me think.
In the mirror, I think I look youthful and decent looking despite my many years on earth. When I see photos of myself, I think I look heavy, bleary eyed and aged. Prior to this, I have just assumed that I am not photogenic. So I did an experiment. I hooked up a Microsoft camera to my computer and looked at the image that appeared on my flat screen. It was the picture guy not the mirror guy. My mirror guy was not real. I am the only one who ever saw him. Poor fellow, he died today. The memorial service will be held in my bathroom tomorrow, Pastor Brian Chronister will officiate. To add some insult to this sad state of affairs, my Microsoft camera is not compatible with Skype. I bought it to use it with Skype so that I could interact with my daughter and granddaughter. Sigh…..Microsoft. Their attitude seems to be….”you must make yourself compatible with us; we won’t make our products so that they work with yours.” I wonder if Microsoft realizes that this is how they come across?
This highlights something that I know is true. We do not know ourselves. Interestingly we can quickly take the measure of someone else. They talk too much, are arrogant, self absorbed, vain, and lazy. Yet very few people will say similar things about themselves. I read an article that surveyed Dentists for opinions about their patients and dental care. One comment leaped off the page. “We will not tell you that you have bad breath unless you ask.” So Dentists put up with bad breath every day and never tell the patient? I want them to tell me so I guess I will have to ask them next time I visit. I’ll brush first.
This leads to these questions. Do we have bad breath? Do we expect others to conform to us rather than yield to them? Is our public image not as pleasant as our private image of ourselves?
There is only one arbiter who truly knows us. We don’t even know us. God is aware of our bad breath, our sinful thoughts, our bad intentions, our selfish inclinations. Anyone else who knew all of these things would likely be horrified. Maybe our Mothers would still love us but no one else would.
Remember that the grace of God overlooks all of our flaws because of Christ. Every so often I find an arrogant, cruel and scathing opinion of someone who has recently been involved in sin actually form in my mind. Seconds later, I will say “oops.” I have committed the same sin years ago. “Shut up Brian. He needs grace. The same grace that God gave you.”
God knows us. He is not fooled by the mirror image nor scammed by our pleasant words. Even so, He loves us. Not even our Moms can compete with that.
Romans 5 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (NASB)