“For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.”
– James 1:23,24
From Pastor Dave McMillan
Pastor Dave McMillan
Some time ago, I watched an old documentary hosted by the late neurologist, Oliver Sacks.
He was was interviewing a middle aged man suffering from Korsakoff’s Syndrome who could remember nothing of his life since the end of World War II. The documentary made in the 1990’s, he still believed it was 1945 and behaved normally aside from his inability to remember most of his past and the events of his day-to-day life. As I watched, I remember feeling heartbroken as he struggled to find meaning in the midst of forgetting what he was doing from one moment to the next.
According to psychologist David Keirsey, who developed the popular personality assessment the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, I fall under the category of an “Idealist”. I imagine this isn’t a surprise! According to Keirsey, as an Idealist, I am part of twelve percent of the world’s population who are forever concerned with seeking meaning and significance, obsessed with answering the question “Who am I?”. While still possessing a fair memory, there are still some mornings when I look in the mirror, as if I have forgotten overnight, and ask “Who am I?” . . . ”What am I like?”
The question “Who am I?” may be especially concerning to Idealists, but I suspect it is a question we all ask from time to time. I also believe it was a question Jesus tried to answer for us. He tried to answer this question for us by taking the ordinary lives of his disciples and showing us how extraordinary life can become. He tried to answer this questions by revealing and confronting our religious pretensions appealing to the authenticity of love, justice, and mercy. He tried to show us who we are in befriending and forgiving sinners like Zacchaeus, The Woman at the Well, and The Woman Caught in Adultery, revealing to us our better moral nature. He revealed to us who we are in his crucifixion and death, the fearful part of ourselves that wills for power, that we would rather not admit to, but must always remember lest history tragically repeat itself again and again.
Jesus tried to show us who we are through calling us to follow him in Christian discipleship. Pastor Eugene Peterson wrote that Christian discipleship is “a long obedience in the same direction.” Jesus knew that self-identity comes only after a life-time of fidelity to the spiritual practices of self-surrender, prayer, corporate worship, right relationships, and acts of compassion and service . . . until the faith we profess is harmonious with the faith we live, until we become more like our Master. Only then when we look in a mirror and walk away, we won’t feel the need to run back having forgotten what we are like.
“And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”
– 2 Corinthians 3:18