Lookin’ good or looking back?


By Stan Counsell | PREVIEW Columnist

Oh, those mirrors of ours; we can’t live without them. We are deeply convinced that they are of far greater value than most of our possessions, save toilet paper. We all remember the toilet paper shortages during COVID-19: “Give me your toilet paper and nobody gets hurt!”

Judging by the number of mirrors we have, they must be of profound importance. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has them, lots of ‘em. They are in our bathrooms, bedrooms, living room, vehicles, purses and briefcases. We can’t get enough of seeing ourselves. While looking at that presentable person in front of us, we start to think, “Look out, world, here I come!” We so love seeing ourselves that we take quick ganders of ourselves in store windows. Well, at least I do.

We want to be sure that everything is perfect, that our hair isn’t out of place or, God forbid, we have spinach stuck in our teeth. But, what about that terrible daily urge called vanity: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” We want to love what we see, plain and simple.

But, that can be a “poison pill,” too, wanting to love what we see. Concerts can be ear-splitting, blinding synchronized lights, lasers numbing our senses, “look at me” clothing, with everyone screaming, swaying and clapping. The band, or singer, can miss many a note, but who cares? It’s money well-spent.

Sadly, love can go awry, finding a dark alley within our heart. Such an alley is smack-dab between two streets, Self Circle and Entertainment Drive. When on Self Circle, we tend to go nowhere, things become a blur as we “spin our wheels” following after this or that infatuation. We can’t understand why so much is just out of reach, we gotta try harder, harder. So, like a merry-go-round, we ride straight to where we started from. Maybe another go ‘round will work.

Entertainment Drive is rightfully situated there, too. Entertainment is, well, entertaining. Loving fright, laughter, crying, showing our “32 smile,” the electrified atmosphere, popcorn, hot dog, over-cooked pizza and refreshing drink – such fun. It pulls at us, says we’re missing out, being a dolt or wet blanket. 

Broadway and Vegas are known for their allure, the hype is 24/7 and, wow, the lights are stunning. We become like a monster fish being enticed by that hook that’s all fancied up. We get tempted, really tempted. But, the wrong decision makes us someone’s meal. Yes, temptation is alive and well on planet earth.

There is a word found in the Bible that the world finds a killer of fun, leading to a boring life. It’s called “repent.” This “horrible” word is found some 42 times in the Bible. In the Old Testament the Lord said it as did his prophets and godly kings. In the New Testament we see Jesus, John the Baptist and the disciples saying it with great urgency.

In Hebrew, the word means: “to return, recover, restore.” In Greek, it means: “to change one’s mind for the better, abhor one’s past sins, to think differently.” Because of God’s never-ending love and grace, he wants us to return to him, be restored and recover from our wrong choices. 

Really, it’s a no-brainer, we need to return to God and be engulfed in his love, joy, strength, guidance and his awesome salvation; see the fancy fishhook for what it is — death.

In Genesis, Lot was told to flee the impending doom of Sodom and Gomorrah with his wife and family, not to look back as they fled. But, Lot’s wife did look back. After all, she had such privilege, many cavalier friends and enjoyed all that the city offered. But, it cost her dearly — her life (Genesis 19:17, 26).

In the New Testament we have the tragedy of Paul’s co-laborer, Demas. He strongly felt moved to go with the apostle on his hard, dangerous, and seemingly never-ending missionary journeys. Later, Paul wrote of Demas as being a “dear friend” in his service to the Lord (Colossians 4:14). 

Two years later, Paul wrote of Demas sending his greetings to the brethren but the phrase “dear friend” was missing (Philemon 1:23-24). Demas was still working with Paul but something may have developed, becoming a concern to Paul. Was Demas’ dedication starting to pine for his former days of comfort, the bright lights, popularity, wild parties and other self-fulfilling thrills?

Years later, Paul said that Demas had deserted him. Writing to young Timothy, Paul penned, “Timothy, come to me quickly for Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me” (2 Timothy 4:9-10). Paul made it clear that Demas was deeply drawn to, and entangled with, the evils of the world. Demas left Paul in a lurch, willing to let Paul’s missions die in a ditch. How could this happen? It was the fancied hook that Satan made to bring him back into the fallen human condition.

Today, as in biblical times, there is the never-ending pull to sway us into that which brings us and our witness great harm. That hook is self at all costs, a life of desired ease and fleshly pleasures. 

With great angst, there were, and still are, “ministers” that willingly twist God’s Word. Paul wrote disdainfully of such frauds, “we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit” and “We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods ... to trick you or distort the Word of God” (2 Corinthians 2:17; 4:2).

Our mirrors are like God’s Word, showing the real us with no distortions. Let’s be the wise fish, turn away from that alluring hook, swim instead into God’s love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ’s death, burial and documented resurrection.