Sunday, February 27, 2011

Palaces and Mirrors

Today is just one of those days where the planets are aligned just so and the world is in harmony or whatever you want to call it.

Today was the day that Heavenly Father knocked down a wall. Everything that has been put in my path over the last week, everything I've read, all the things we talked about at church, even the hymns, combined into one big spiritual battering ram.

CS Lewis in Mere Christianity says:

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
This part often gets quoted in church, but I find the part that follows even more interesting. Lewis says that God

will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or a goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly…His own boundless power and delight and goodness.
I find this second section even more important than the first because it focuses on what is truly important. The first quote says that God is going to make of us a palace. That sounds like we should go along with the process because we will be made greater because of it.  It feels to me like using the Gospel as some sort of self-help plan, to glorify ourselves, rather than our Father which is in Heaven.

The second section is where I find the true challenge to the Christian soul. Are you willing to have yourself be completely eradicated in the process of perfection? We need to become "a bright stainless mirror" so we can reflect back to God "power and delight and goodness." Are we willing to lose ourselves to become like God?

I find I have two contradictory responses to that challenge. First, is the disbelief that God can make me perfect. Me, for my sins are so special and my flaws so immense that they challenge even the capacity of the Almighty to overcome. My, what pride, masked with a facade of self-loathing.

My other response is to not want to give up who I am, because I like who I am. My husband once told me that sacrifice is giving up something good for something better, before we know what the better is. How could being like God not be better than what I am now? It has to be.

And yet, I am reluctant. I am scared of that surrender. Of what it might cost. Of what might be required of me. But I have to remember that I am not God. And I am not called to be God. I am called to be a mirror of God, so that others can see Him when they look at me. What a relief to not be God. To not have to be in control. To not be required to fix things or save people or have all the answers.

God calls me to love. Love others as Christ would love them. Love others as I would love myself. Through some transitive property that I haven't thought about since ninth grade geometry, that means I have to love myself as Christ loves me, with a full awareness of my imperfections, but with no judgment, merely a call to improve.

Love is the answer. It is always the answer. Love is at the center of all things.


Anonymous said...

This is really beautiful. I've struggled with this very question--and I love how you nail self-loathing as pride because that's so true and I'm so guilty of it.

I've come to think of this in terms of healing. God doesn't want to annihilate my humanity. He wants to perfect it. So it is giving up something good for something better because it's giving up my broken humanity for a healed, restored, whole humanity. The image of God, in which we are created, shines through and we become like a window for God's glory.

Sarah said...

Wow. I love how you help me to see things more clearly.

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