I remember the fun of walking through a maze of mirrors in the fair’s fun house. Each was made to distort my image- making me very tall or very short, round, thin, or strangely alien. Our cell phone have apps that do similar things to our faces, a source of laughter when I am with my grandkids. Of course, those same phones let us actually ‘distort’ images in ways we desire too. We can smooth wrinkles, eliminate blemishes, filter out the ‘imperfections’ that we see in our image. Fun house mirrors and selfie filters are relatively harmless, but oh the difficulties that enter our lives when we allow lies to shape our perception of ourselves and our world.
Our guest speaker at church on Sunday spoke about his struggle with his height, how he felt less because he is of small stature. His honesty was refreshing. We know that many teens are deeply affected by social media images. Some react to their perception of being ‘less’ with self-destructive behaviors and/or serious depression. How many adults would be willing to admit that they are trying to overcome some sense of inferiority with the clothes they wear, the car they drive, the ‘friends’ they keep, or the home they live in?
Jesus said that Truth sets us free! “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32, NLT) Dozens of times in the Gospels we read Jesus speaking about ‘truth.’ He starts many of His teachings with this line – “I tell you the truth.” It’s easy to nod our agreement but living ‘in truth’ is much more difficult because the world we live in is a lot like the fair’s fun house that distorted my image.
We are told our worth is found in achievement, a half-truth at best. We learn somehow to compare ourselves to others and even on a kindergarten playground a social order starts to emerge where some are ‘in’ and others are ‘out.’ We learn to wear masks that hide our emotions, our true feelings, so that we can function in polite society, but those masks can become suffocating or even confused with reality over time.
There is one basic truth, my friend, that is wonderfully liberating, that is foundational for living whole lives. It is encapsulated in John’s Gospel. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17, NIV) There it is! God, our Father, our Creator, loves us.
Nothing distorts life more than the belief that God is capricious, cruel, or uncaring. Millions believe the lie that God is too remote to be known or worse, that He is a cruel Person lurking around the edges of life to catch them doing wrong so He can punish them. The Devil’s best work is to convince us of the lie of an unloving God! And, he is amazingly successful, using even religion to keep millions alienated from the very Source of Life.
This is TRUTH – “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) God does not love everything I do, because sin is real and disobedience costly. But, He loves ME and He loves YOU. His intent is to bring you to Himself. He is the pursuer, the One who came to “ seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10, NIV) That line closes the story of Zacchaeus in Luke’s Gospel. That man was a crook, a traitor to his people, alienated and alone in his town. He went to see Jesus when the Savior was passing through his village, famously climbing a tree because he was too short to see over the crowd. “When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! For I must be a guest in your home today.” (Luke 19:5, NLT)
Jesus’ love and acceptance laid a foundation for true repentance that led to transformation of that little man. What a lesson for us! He is still seeking and saving those who are lost in the distortions of this world, helping us to live in Truth, escaping the lies of materialism, sensuality, pride, and even empty religiosity. How I pray that the ‘basic truth’ of God’s love will own our minds and hearts.
Would you be whole, living in joy, contented, and filled with purpose? Begin with this Truth – God loves!
The word from the Word invites us to contemplate the reality and the transformative power of the truth of our Father’s love. Meditate on this today. “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God—for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us.” (1 John 4:7-12, NLT) Lord, may the Truth liberate us from fear and lead us to know and love You as You love us. Amen.
Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and the change
One thing remains
One thing remains
Your love Your love Your love will never change
Your love never fails
It never gives up
Never runs out on me
On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid
One thing remains
One thing remains
In death in life I’m confident and
Cover’d by the power of Your great love
My debt is paid there’s nothing that
Can separate my heart from Your great love
Brian Johnson | Christa Black Gifford | Jeremy Riddle
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