Monday, August 16, 2010

"I was looking back to see / If you were looking back to see / If I was looking back to see / If you were looking back at me. " Buck Owens

Jennifer is visiting her grandmother in Michigan this week, and in her absence she has graciously indulged and entrusted me, her husband, with this week’s posting. Jennifer is a living embodiment of a Proverbs 31 woman, and I can only hope to impart some small measure of the passion for the Scripture she conveys in this space each week.

About a year ago I found a dear friend from my childhood church on Facebook. In a series of emails sent over the course of several days, we discussed our upbringing and how it had shaped us into the adults we now are.

As children we were both most assuredly taught that salvation was wholly a work of grace. Yet, much as the Galatians to whom Paul wrote, we were somehow left believing salvation came through grace plus something else. In our case, “something else” was adherence to a strict moral code, eschewing the “world” and its pleasures.

Several months before meeting this friend, I had an epiphany in which I finally began to realize the true impart and meaning of Ephesians 2:8 (“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”). Put simply, I realized for the first time that I could not do anything to merit salvation. It was and is a gift from God extended to undeserving man (i.e., me).

After sharing my new-found dénouement with this childhood friend, she, in turn, pointed me to her own realization of this same thought as seen in Micah 6:8 (“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”). Again, the focus is not upon adherence to laws and strictures but upon the grace of God extended to undeserving (but compliant) mankind.

Against the backdrop of this freely-bestowed grace, the reality of Romans 3:10 literally stings the ears: “[A]s it is written, ‘THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE.’” See, e.g., Psalm 14:1, 53:1. The Apostle Paul’s statement, borrowed from King David, makes it clear that I cannot possibly hope to attain righteousness. If David, a man after God’s own heart (I Samuel 13:14), and Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13), could not achieve righteousness, what chance do I have?

Yet, miraculously, a thrice-holy God has extended the miracle of salvation to me. How? Why? And what’s up with the title of this posting anyway? Glad you asked.

It all started (where else?) in the Garden of Eden. There, the Bible recounts: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him.” Genesis 1:27. Thus, when God communed with Adam and Eve before the Fall, He was in some strange, indefinable way, interacting with a visual representation of Himself. He was, in effect, looking into a mirror, seeing Himself portrayed through Adam and Eve. Yet, that “image of God” as portrayed through pre-Fall mankind was broken when sin and death entered the world.

In the moments following the Fall, God undertook to make “garments of skin for Adam and his wife…” (Genesis 3:21), thus shedding the blood of animals—a type and foretelling of the coming crucifixion of Christ many thousands of years later. Indeed, the Bible recounts what could only have been millions of slain lambs over the course of human history from the Fall to the crucifixion—all looking forward to Christ and his redemptive work at Calvary. This covering thus shielded Adam and Eve and their descendants from God’s full gaze—and kept God from seeing Himself reflected in mankind.

When Moses prayed and asked to see God’s glory, he was permitted to see God’s back only: “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” Exodus 33:20. Yet, if it is to be noticed, Moses was hidden within the cleft of a rock—a foretelling of “Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,” (Ephesians 2:20)—and covered with God’s hand until He passed by. Exodus 33:22. Thus, not only was God hidden from Moses’ view, Moses himself was also hidden from God’s view. The blood, the rock, and the hand all prevented God from seeing through to the sinful condition of mankind, to the “broken mirror” of man himself.

The miracle of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection has filled the libraries of the world, and I could hardly add to the scholarship in this short missive. It suffices to note that Christ came as “the exact representation of [God’s] nature.” Hebrews 1:3 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Colossians 1:15. Further, Christ also came in the “likeness of sinful flesh.” Romans 8:3. Christ, it could be said, is the exact replica and duplicate of both God and man.

That same Christ has now been interposed between sinful man and God. Romans 8:34. Now, when God looks at mankind he sees Christ, and when man looks at God, he (man) also sees Christ.

Thus it is that when we see Christ, we see ourselves the way God sees us. We look into the mirror of what we can be in Christ Jesus, and God looks into what we are by His own grace manifested to undeserving mankind through His son. It is in this way that Ephesians 2:8 comes alive in our hearts and lives—“lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” I Corinthians 1:17 KJV.

On this early Monday morning (or whenever this post may find you), be encouraged, and if your mirrors have proven unkind, take heart: “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection…” Romans 6:5. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” II Corinthians 5:17.

Regardless of what you see in the mirror, God looks at you and sees Himself!


  1. Well said!

  2. That last line - "Regardless of what you see in the mirror, God looks at you and sees Himself!" - I've never really thought about it that way - Thanks - it makes perfect sense now knowing "how" Christ can love me.

  3. Nice to meet you, Mr. Jennifer! I see you both have been graced with wisdom from the Lord. This is a much-needed message today. Tis by grace...