“So Jesus explained, ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He only does what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.'”
— John 5:19, NLT
Every year I do a Christmas blog post, but this year I wasn’t really feeling it. To be honest, I haven’t felt much like blogging lately and I’ve been really busy anyway. So instead of doing a Christmas post, I thought maybe I could do a quick recap of my year, a sort of end-of-year/New-Years post. But then who wants to read that?
But it did get me thinking about this whole idea of reflecting. At the end of the year, we’re supposed to reflect back on the last twelve months, all the good, bad, and ugly, reminisce with our loved ones, sing Auld Lang Syne, and then make a few New Years resolutions that we have no intention of keeping but it sounds good at the time. It’s all very noble and usually well-intentioned, but it’s kinda pointless at the same time. Not that we shouldn’t take time to remember, but those memories tend to be skewed by our own perceptions.
As humans, we’re terrible at reflecting but we’re awesome at refracting. We suck when it comes to being honest and authentic and irrecoverably flawed, but we excel at bending the truth for our own purposes, to make us look better or sound better or appear like we know what the hell we’re doing. We pick and choose what we present to others, only choosing the best stuff and conveniently ignoring all the embarassing crap that we don’t want anyone else to know about. Oh sure, we’re quick to snap a selfie and throw it on Instagram because we think we’re so important, but even that is an act of self-selection not an accurate view of our deepest, darkest, stupidest moments. There’s a reason I’m a shy, private introvert full of self-doubt, and it’s not because of my amazing humility. It’s because I know more than anyone else how insanely screwed up I really am.
Jesus, though, wasn’t in the business of refraction. He didn’t bend the truth or twist reality to fit his own agenda or make people like him. In fact, over the course of his three-year ministry, more people abandoned him than stuck by him. And even those that cheered for him when he entered Jerusalem on a donkey turned against him less than a week later. If Jesus had any intention of winning friends, he failed miserably.
No, Jesus was honest and truthful and authentic to the end, even when his closest friends betrayed him. Even when he knew it would cost him his life. Born to an average couple in the back woods of Bethlehem in probably the least exciting place on earth, raised with a common name and common appearance as the son of a common carpenter, Jesus had every right to pad his résumé, to gloss over the less interesting parts and emphasize the cool “Son of God” thing. But he didn’t do that. Instead, he just reflected God and let that be enough. His life and death were never about himself anyway. It was all to serve his Father’s larger purpose.
I’d love to say my goal in life was to reflect God’s light in everything I do. But more often that not, I’d rather refract it. Because that’s how broken and messed up I truly am. But as we remember Jesus’s birth and the manger surrounded by dirty livestock in the middle of nowhere, maybe it’s a good time to remember that as much as we think it is, this life isn’t about us. And for a moment we can stop fighting to fix our broken mirrors and be content with the perfection of the God who created them.