The Mirror of the Word

Information doesn’t do any good unless it is accompanied by action. James uses the analogy of someone looking intently into a mirror, but not acting on what he sees, and yet thinking that everything is fine. Such a person is self-deceived, and their life is not blessed by God. “Don’t be like that!” James says.

The key on which everything turns is using the information you gain from mirror of God’s Word to transform your life. That’s how the mirror is supposed to function. You see worship in God’s Word, you should engage in such worship in your life. You see community in God’s Word, you should participate in the life of the Church. You see mission in God’s Word, you should commit to works of mission in your life. If your life is not marked by these things, then you are deceiving yourself if you think that your ‘face’ looks good! If these things do characterize you, then you are set free, and your life will be blessed by God.

As we begin 2015, we are rotating our focus back to the beginning of the spiral of worship, community, and mission. And so these words from James prompt us to hold up our worship to the mirror of the Word. Is the worship that God expects to see really showing up in our midst? If someone read about worship in the Bible and then came to worship with us, would they find a mirror image, or would it be one of those “spot-the-difference” pictures?

The mirror that is God’s Word gives us information about what to include in worship: teaching, the Lord’s Supper, fellowship, prayer, hymns, offerings, Christian greetings, confession, and Scripture reading. If you look carefully, you’ll see these practices reflected in our worship. This congregation has been richly blessed for the past sixteen years with faithful shepherds who took the word of God very seriously when leading in worship.

But there’s more: in addition to the elements of worship, what we do with hands and lips, we also are given instructions about the manner of our worship, what we do with our hearts. Not only is it possible to be a hearer but not a doer, it is also possible to do the right things in the wrong spirit; worshiping God with our lips when our hearts are far from Him. And so this is the kind of worship that God is looking for: worship in Spirit and truth, decent and orderly worship, reverent and awe-filled worship, joyful worship.

And here, too, God likes what He sees in this congregation. You sing loudly and joyfully. You listen attentively. You pray real heartfelt prayers about things that matter. When you look around, you see saints whose hearts are engaged in God-honoring worship. You are worshiping faithfully – now do so more and more.

The exhortation is to look in the mirror personally to make sure that what is true of the congregation is true of you. Don’t be the one person falling asleep in a room full of people paying attention. Don’t be the one sour face in a sea of gladness. Don’t let your attention wander during the Bible readings. Don’t sit out the songs. Don’t give dishonor God by regularly showing up late on Sunday morning. Don’t ride the coattails of the faithful worship of others. Don’t be the zit on the face of an otherwise beautiful bride. Instead, glorify God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

So are we done? No, of course not. There will always be more to hear and more to do. We have been transformed from the harlot to the bride, but we are not yet a spotless bride. And so we need to persevere at looking into the mirror to find and remove spots where our worship doesn’t fully match the reality that God calls for.

But while some small details may change, there will be no fundamental change to who we are as a congregation, because our identity is not found in the details of our worship, but in the object of our worship, Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. What makes us who we are is that we are committed to hearing the voice of Jesus speaking through the Scriptures, and we are committed to doing what Jesus says to do. As we worship the Lord, therefore, let us look intently into the law of liberty, not forgetting what we see, but becoming both hearers and doers of the Word, so that our doing might be blessed by Jesus Christ.

Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2015 by CJ Bowen