Are people naturally bad and sinful, or naturally good? The most common idea is that people are basically good, an idea that most Christians would oppose. We have verses to quote that back up our understanding that people are sinful through and through . . .
As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10–12)
Yet there is another way to look at this question, a way that could create a stir, at least it stirs me. God created human beings to reflect His image. That is, we are mere mirrors without an identity except to reflect the identity of our Creator. This means we are basically grand beings with a lofty purpose.
The biggest problem is that we are not doing what we were created to do. Rebellion against God put “mud on the mirror” so to speak, and our reflecting ability is marred by sin. Not only that, the mud blinds us to our true condition and instead of realizing or even acknowledging our original purpose, the sin-filled mind spends most of life trying to establish its own way, its own purpose.
Yet deep in the human heart beats a desire to be right with God. He “put eternity in our hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and gives us a desire to pass the test of judgment day, and to spend eternity with Him. He also introduced His laws and commands, but even those have been misinterpreted. Most people think that these are the tests that if kept will put them on the right side of God. That is not true, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20) His law is intended to show us our mud.
Not only that, living as a mirror is not about keeping rules, but about being humbly dependent. Only those who acknowledge the mud and have it washed from their lives can reflect the image of God. The forgiven soul may not do it perfectly, yet with Christ living in our hearts by faith, the Christian becomes a mirror again and that lofty purpose begins to be fulfilled.
You’d think that the world would rejoice at the appearance of shining, polished reflections of God, but the opposite is surprisingly true. Those still covered in mud do not understand or accept innocence, purity, absence of self-seeking, or anything that resembles God. In fact, Jesus warned His disciples that this would be so . . .
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. (Matthew 10:16–18)
It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. (Matthew 10:25)
For this reason, many Christians shrink back from our true calling of total dependence and reflecting God. We add a little mud to make ourselves like those around us, to keep us from being persecuted. If we go our own way, at least six days of the week, no one will notice the shine of our mirrors.
Yet the Creator isn’t letting us get away with this fearful response. He disciplines us and continues to polish and shine our lives because He loves us as a Father loves His children, and nothing can change what He is doing . . .
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:35–37)
I fully realize the glory of the love of Christ, but also realize that it does not protect me from those horrors that try to separate me from His love or from the rejection of other muddy mirrors who will throw rocks at me and laugh. I will suffer when I shine, maybe even die because I believe in Jesus, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:14–15)
Weighing this against living for myself makes no sense except that Jesus stands with me so I can be who I am and shine even under persecution. If I decide to go the other way, I will stand alone, doing my own thing, and covered with mud.