Why do we act like the people we’re around? To some extent, we realize this happens. We spend a lot of time with a certain friend and suddenly people are commenting on our similar mannerisms, speech, reactions, etc. Even our tastes and preferences may drift together.
The reason this happens is simple: we’re mirrors.
A mirror is made to reflect whatever it’s facing. As long as the mirror isn’t covered by anything, it reflects the object in front of it. It doesn’t try to or even want to; it just does. Whatever the object does, the mirror reflects. This ability to reflect is because of what the mirror is, its being. No amount of determination or strength will make it better or worse at its job. A mirror reflects what’s before it simply because of what it is.
Human beings are similar. We reflect what we see. And for Christians, this has a very particular application.
In 2 Corinthians 3:18 we’re given a powerful secret to the Christian life:
“But we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.”
This verse likens us to mirrors that, when unveiled or uncovered, behold and reflect the glory of the Lord. Notice the verse doesn’t say, “But we all with much determination, endeavoring with all our strength to be Christ-like…” It says we simply behold Jesus and reflect Him, like a mirror.
Beholding and reflecting the Lord
Like mirrors, we’re always reflecting something. Maybe we’re occupied with our favorite television show, a good book, or even a social cause, and we spend our time beholding, or looking at, all things related to it. So when we’re with others, we talk about it. It’s automatic because it’s what’s in us; it’s what we beheld, so now we reflect it.
Beholding is simply a matter of where our heart is engaged and what it’s interested in. Striving, struggling, or working aren’t involved. An easy way to find out what we’re beholding is to ask ourselves, where is my heart engaged?
So how do we behold the Lord? According to 2 Corinthians 3:16,
“But whenever their heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”
We behold the Lord by turning our heart to Him. This is the secret. If our hearts are beholding something other than Christ Himself, we’ll inevitably reflect that thing. We may want very much to be Christ-like, but we can even end up beholding “being Christ-like” instead of Christ Himself.
Beholding and reflecting isn’t imitation. Imitation is when we change our behavior to match our own concept of what it is to be Christ-like. This takes much effort and eventually falls short, because no one can ever imitate perfectly.
But when we behold, no effort is involved. We simply turn our hearts to the Lord, and because of what we are—mirrors—we automatically reflect Him, that is, He Himself shines from our transformed inward being through our outward behavior. This is because we’re changed inwardly by the addition of the Christ whom we behold. So what others then see isn’t a person trying to be like Christ, but Christ Himself reflected in our living.
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The condition—an unveiled face
Sometimes we’re not able to behold Christ because our hearts are veiled. If a mirror is covered with a cloth, it will only reflect the cloth. In 2 Corinthians 3, we see that the Israelites’ love for the law became a cloth, a veil, over their hearts. Things that seem positive such as philosophy, religious concepts, cultural traditions, even our own ideas about the Lord, can all veil us. When our hearts turn toward those things instead of toward Christ, the Person living within us, our heart is veiled, and we can’t behold and reflect Him.
If we feel our heart is covered, even a little bit, we can pray for the Lord to make us willing to turn away from whatever veils our heart, even seemingly innocuous things like our idea of what it means to be a good Christian. Then, turning our hearts to the Lord, we can behold Him.
Every day, especially every morning, we can begin with the excellent practice of praying, “Lord Jesus, I turn my heart to You. Have mercy on me and show me anything that veils me and prevents me from beholding You today. Lord, I turn my heart to behold You. I love You, Lord Jesus.”
A simple way to live Christ
The more we spend time to behold the Christ who lives in our spirit, the more we’re infused with Him. Christ increases in us, a gradual transformation of our being takes place, and we reflect Him. Our friends and family may sense a change in us, even if they’re not able to pinpoint the source. We ourselves may not even realize we’ve changed, because the change is not the result of self-improvement or our own effort. Praise the Lord He’s made it so simple! As mirrors, we don’t have to do that much; we simply turn our hearts to behold the Lord, and we reflect Him.
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