One morning, I was looking at my reflection in a mirror. Actually, I was looking at the reflection of my reflection in two mirrors, where two of them were at right angles to each other. I realized that, based on where I was sitting, neither one of these mirrors was aligned to show me my reflection on its own. Only by meeting at the corner, and working together, could the light bounce back to me.
Periscopes and certain binoculars work the same way: if all of the required mirrors or prisms aren’t in their proper place, we’ll probably find ourselves staring off into some other direction, and miss out on what we were trying to spot.
Paul gave the following instructions1 to the church at Corinth:
And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:34 NLT
We should absolutely reflect the message, example, and person of Jesus to others. While we are not God, the life of Jesus (both God and man) gave us a perfect example of what it meant to live in obedience to God the Father, and we can do no better than to emulate this. Now, our paths won’t be exactly the same as Jesus’, as God calls us to serve in our own circumstances with our own gifts, but the principles that Jesus lived by (obeying and glorifying God) are applicable to all of us, not just specific individuals.
Paul defined this obligation for Timothy:
Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.
2 Timothy 1:13-14 NLT
Note that Paul didn’t just expect Timothy to somehow mirror the truth that Jesus brought to us. Paul “reflected” this truth as he taught it to Timothy, and expected Timothy to further reflect that truth to others.
In the same way, even as we make disciples (like Jesus instructed us to), sometimes we may be called upon to share that responsibility with others. As Paul described in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, the process of discipleship is often the result of multiple people working together to help believers grow in their faith.
So, while you work to live according to Jesus’ perfect example of submission to God the Father’s will, don’t be afraid to work cooperatively with others to teach others the truth. In some cases, this might mean inviting people to read an article, listen to a message, or watch a video that articulate something about the Scriptures. It’s OK if God blessed someone else with a way of presenting a Biblical truth that you weren’t able to replicate. Don’t feel that you have to restate the writings of great thinkers about the Bible before sharing them (unless the language they used needs some translation), if a friend needs to hear what they had to say.
In other cases, it might mean inviting others to listen to a preacher or teacher who is speaking from God’s word. By sharing that lesson together, and talking it over afterwards, you can share that experience, so that both of you learn more than you could on your own.
While it is important to deliver the most accurate picture of Jesus that we can, don’t be afraid to “reflect His reflection”, too.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
- We might debate whether this verse is chapter 10, verse 34, or chapter 11, verse 1, but that really doesn’t matter. ↩