When we look in the mirror, everything looks great. Our outward appearance is reflected back to us and we “look pretty good.” We may get angry, but we don’t commit murder; we may have lust in our hearts, but we don’t commit adultery; we may desire more wealth, but we don’t cheat on our taxes.
If we are honest, we realize that we are a “good person” out of compulsion because we are afraid that misbehavior will result in immediate retribution, or other consequences down the road.
Jesus looks past the image that we choose to project, and with X-ray vision sees right through us, stripping away our piousness and superficial scales. In Revelation 3:14 it is revealed to John to write to the church at Laodicea, “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.”
We can’t fool Jesus. He doesn’t accept our carefully constructed outward appearance, He sees with piercing laser vision directly into our hearts and souls. We can try to convince ourselves that we are wonderful people, but Jesus knows that we are all wretched souls.
Is it hopeless for us? Matthew continues, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” And the scribes and Pharisees were the most outwardly righteous of their time.
This isn’t to condemn us into eternal punishment, but instead to liberate us when we recognize we are sinners that can only be saved by the power of Jesus’ death on the cross. Once we come to terms with our real self, God tells us to put all our trust in Him, buying our gold, clothes, and medicine for our eyes, only from Him.
God’s X-ray vision doesn’t cause us despair, instead it shines the light on who we really are and that we’ve gone around half-naked long enough.
Is the reflection in the mirror still lying to you, telling you how wonderful you are?
The great physician shows us our real X-ray and the good news of Jesus Christ who cures us.
(Based upon excerpts from a sermon by the Rev. Malone Gilliam at St. George’s Episcopal Church, Nashville, TN on February 9, 2014).
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