Summary: What do you see in the mirror? Little faults and failures, or a beloved child of God? Just like a Mirror, we are to reflect God’s love in our lives.
“Magic mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” These words are familiar to children of all ages. These are the words spoken by the queen in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, as she gazes into her enchanted mirror. “Magic mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” The wicked queen looks to the mirror to tell her that her beauty is unparalleled throughout the land.
Mirrors are tools for reflection. They show who we are, both the positive and the negative. The queen looked into the mirror to see that she was the fairest lady in the land. And for a long time, the mirror would reply that indeed she was the fairest. But eventually a young lady came along whose beauty exceeded that of the queen. And the mirror did not lie. “Famed is thy beauty, majesty. But oh, a lovely maid I see. Rags cannot hide her gentle grace. Alas, she is more fair than thee.”
Unless you’re in the “Hall of Mirrors” at the fair or a circus, a mirror doesn’t lie. It gives an accurate portrayal of the person or thing standing before it. It shows the good along with the bad. That’s why we rely on mirrors not only for our looks, but for very important tasks. Mirrors are an important piece in many technological tools that we rely on for precision, including photocopiers, telescopes, and medical equipment. We use rear view mirrors for safety as we drive. We rely on mirrors because they accurately reflect the image in front of them.
In much the same way, we look into the mirror to see who we are, or at least what we look like. When I look into a mirror, I’m more likely to see those “little flaws” instead of the pleasing things. I’ll notice that my hair won’t stay put, that I forgot to shave, or that I still have a ways to go towards my New Year’s resolution to lose weight. I forget to notice that handsome smile, the gleam in my eyes, or all those other things that helped my wife to fall in love with me. Most days, all I can see are the negatives.
Sometimes, too, when people look into a mirror, they see the deeper faults hiding within their being. They gaze into the eyes reflecting back at them and say, “Oh, there you are, the one who can’t control his temper.” “Oh, there you are, the one who can’t stand up to her boss.” “Oh, there you are, the one who can’t seem to get things right.” In our success driven culture, we are often all too quick to condemn ourselves, instead of seeing the value that lies deep within each one of us.
Even within the church, we often focus on the things that we do wrong, on our shortcomings, instead of on God’s blessings in our lives. “Oh, there you are, the one who can’t live up to God’s expectations.” As a result, we fall into a false humility, feeling that we’re not allowed to take pride in the work that we do for the sake of Christ and the church. We are hesitant to share our gifts with the church, because we don’t want to appear too eager, or because there might be someone out there who can do the task we volunteered for better than we can. And we wouldn’t want to be known as thinking that we’re better than we really are, so we assume that we’re good at nothing, that our paltry efforts will do little or no good for furthering the work of the church. Or else we wait for someone to ask us to serve, rather than taking the initiative to offer our gifts in our Lord’s service. We say, “Why don’t you find someone more qualified to serve, but if you can’t find anyone else, I guess I’ll do it.” We look into the mirror, and see our faults, our shortcomings, instead of the gifts that the spirit has given us for service in God’s name.
There’s a scene in the movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone where the main character, Harry Potter, encounters an enchanted mirror, the mirror of Erised.
Earlier in the book we learned that Harry’s parents died when he was only a baby, and he was raised by his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, who showed no interest in Harry at all. He was forced to live in a cupboard under the stairs, and was regularly punished for things that happened that were beyond Harry’s control.
While away at Wizarding School, Harry encounters this enchanted mirror. Harry soon discovers that this mirror shows you your greatest desire. So as Harry gazes into the mirror, he sees himself standing with his parents. They are smiling at him in loving approval. When Harry’s friend Ron gazes into the mirror, he sees himself winning the championship at a Wizarding sporting event.