Mirrors or Optical Illusions
“22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25 NIV
Our problem isn’t whether or not we have access to the word of God. Today there are podcasts, vodcasts, books, free internet resources, bible commentary software, free bible commentary’s online, Christian cd’s, DVD’s, Christian books, Christian radio stations, Christian television shows, and even Christian cable networks! There has not been a time in human history when access to the word of God has been easier to gain than it is today in the United States. Having information is not the problem. The problem is with the application of what we already have access to.
In 2005, Americans bought 500,000 bibles. The result should have been a nationwide revival, but it is not so. Instead we tend to suffer from “spiritual obesity” or “cultural Christianity.” We have an overload of information and it comes so fast that we hear it, but we don’t apply it. Spiritual obesity happens when your biblical knowledge exceeds your obedience to God’s Word. Often times we think that God’s word will change people more if pastors and teachers went “deeper” in their teaching of the word. The truth is, God’s word will begin to change people and break forth in a revival if we OBEY His word. Today we know the word, we heard the word, we understand the word, but we don’t yet obey the word.
James the brother of Jesus, compares the word of God to a mirror. A few months ago when I went to the doctor’s office, there was a picture on the wall of with patterned colors. It was the type of picture that you are supposed to stare at, and “look through” it in order for a 3-D image to come out of it. I started and stared and stared. To this day, I think that those 3-D pictures are a complete hoax. It was an optical illusion. Somehow we have gotten the idea that the word of God is more like an optical illusion than a mirror. We think that if we stare at the bible long enough and “look through” it, there will be some hidden meaning that jumps out of it. We think that it has some mystical power that will magically make our lives better. James the apostle says that the bible is not like an optical illusion, but more like a mirror.
When you look in a mirror what do you see? Yourself. The image you see is not meant to flatter you, nor is it meant to make you look worse than you already appear. The purpose of a mirror is to accurately reflect what you look like so that you may be able to discern imperfections so that you can do something about it. The word of God is just like that. It shows you what is there; no more, no less. The word of God is a mirror and not an optical illusion.
The problems today comes from the fact that we want to hear the word of God, and let it stop there. That is not what it is meant for. James says that the bible is like looking at yourself in a mirror. Looking in a mirror does not make you prettier or more handsome. Looking in front of a mirror doesn’t make your muscles bigger. Looking at a mirror doesn’t help you to lose weight or make your body more toned.
Many people think that the bible changes people’s lives. The bible doesn’t change lives. The bible through the power for the Holy Spirit and the obedience of the believer changes our lives. Most of us think we receive information, and because of that information, the result is transformation, which leads to application. James says that you receive information then is the application, which leads to transformation. The mirror only provides you with the context of what needs to be changed. If you see blemishes on your face, it has not helped you until you apply zit cream.
Listening to good preaching and hearing God’s word does not make you any more Christ-like than looking in a mirror makes you more attractive.
The truth is that the word of God doesn’t work unless you work it. It is not about how much word you know, but about how much of God’s word that we do! The word doesn’t change you. The application of the word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit is what changes you!
People think confusing teaching is deep teaching and deep teaching does not challenge you to change. Every time I hear the word of God preached, I must find one thing I can apply before the week is done!