Playlist - wk 4 - Man in the Mirror
MAN IN THE MIRROR
MAN IN THE MIRROR
Today we are continuing the Playlist series, where we’ve been looking for God’s truth in popular songs. The next time one of these songs come on over the radio, hopefully we can be reminded of God’s truth and love for us. Today we are going to listen to an older song. It came out when I was just a kid, but it is still a fairly well known song today. I know you’ve all heard of Michael Jackson. In 1988, he released a song called “Man in the Mirror,” which was featured in the 2012 movie, “Joyful Noise.”
The message of the song is simple. The singer notices the broken and needy people around him and it awakens something in his heart. He desires to help and to make a change and recognizes that if he is going to do something the first thing he must do is start with himself. The first change has to come from within.
I don’t know if anyone here enjoys sarcasm like I do, but I was looking for something funny to share when I came across a sarcastic news article about the impact of music on one man’s life. We know music can be inspirational, and that’s one reason for doing this series, but the person in this article takes it to another level. According to this news brief, listening to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony encouraged one man to become a genius. He states…
“A few minutes into listening to that thing and it just hit me: I should become a peerless virtuoso whose transcendent contributions to my field leave an indelible mark on history… Beethoven’s symphony really opened me up to the idea of being a world-renowned genius. I think that creating something so visionary that it becomes an inextricable part of human culture while placing me in the pantheon of cultural luminaries from Leonardo da Vinci to Steve Jobs could definitely be my thing...”
The article went on to say, “After learning from his Wikipedia page that Beethoven started losing his hearing at age 28, the man reportedly came up with a plan to also overcome something.”
I thought it was a pretty funny story, but I know that’s not everyone’s preferred type of humor. Oscar Wilde once said, “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but the highest form of intelligence,” but people who don’t like sarcasm normally choose one side of that statement. Either way, I pray that today’s song will inspire all of us.
In his letter to the Jewish believers, James mentions looking at yourself in a mirror to illustrate the importance of being more than just a listener to God’s word. He says, “Don’t just listen to God’s word, do what it says...”
23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
Start with the man in the mirror. It’s more than just completing a checklist every day. It’s a change from within. It is seeing myself in the mirror as a completely new person. Seeing the person God created me to be. Walking away from the mirror and remembering who God says I am and living in His truth, as opposed to living according to the lie of who the world says that I am.
James defines the mirror as “the perfect law that sets you free.” To better understand this, I want to look at Jesus response to the Pharisees who were trying to trap Him with difficult questions. One of the teachers asked Jesus which is the most important commandment in the law…
37 Jesus replied, “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
If this is the mirror, what do you see when you look into it? That is the question I want to challenge you to ponder while we listen to today’s song. What do you see when you look into the mirror?
Play “Man in the Mirror - Joyful Noise”
I want to start with the man in the mirror, so let’s talk about that process. Where do we even begin? James defines the mirror as God’s perfect law, Jesus defines the law as loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and equally important is loving your neighbor as yourself. So let’s start there. According to Jesus, there are two commandments that the entire law is based on. Two commandments that we are looking at when we stare into the mirror. Let’s start by discussing the first…
LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD
LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD
I am going to be quoting Louie Giglio fairly often today. According to him, Man in the Mirror is the best pop song in the history of pop music. The song inspired him to talk about this subject in great detail and he shares some very good thoughts that I want to repeat. One thought of his that I want to share is this. He said…
“Sin doesn’t make us bad; it makes us dead. Jesus didn’t come to make us good; He came to make us alive… Our story is not that we love God. Our story is that He loves us.” -Louie Giglio
What a powerful statement. Sin makes us dead, Jesus makes us alive. When we look into the mirror, it’s not our love story to God that we see. It will always be God’s love story for us! I love that imagery. What if God just said, “Okay. Here is a list of things you have to do if you want to be able to come into my presence. You need to be perfect.” Later, He looks down and sees us fighting with each other, sinning, and not living up to His standard.
He could have said, “Well, here we go again. They can never get anything right. I guess I am going to have to save them.” Thankfully, that’s not what He said. He didn’t say, “Oh man, I really like these people I created. I should help them out.” He chased after us because He loves us. He more than loves us…
John 3:16 (NIV)
16 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.
God doesn’t just love us, He SO loves us! He loves you SO MUCH that He chased after you. He loves you so much that He carefully made all of your delicate and complex parts and knit you together in your mother’s womb, just as David proclaimed in Psalm 139. Even when you don’t pursue Him, He relentlessly pursues you. He loves you so much that He doesn’t give you what you deserve, instead He welcomes you into His presence to spend eternity with Him.
He doesn’t just meet us half way, He meets us ALL the way. He didn’t just tell us how to find Him, God’s Word became human and made His home among us. He loved you SO MUCH that He gave His one and only Son for you. When we look in the mirror, we should be looking in God’s mirror. The first thing that God’s mirror tells us is that we should love the LORD our God. We love God because He first loved us SO very much.
In fact, Louie lists seven things that God says to you when you grab your bible and look into His mirror…
GOD’S MIRROR LIST
I love you.
I’m grateful for you.
You’re a rare and beautiful treasure.
I forgive you.
I’ll hold you to high standards with appropriate amounts of grace and mercy.
You have a special calling.
I’m cheering for you, and I believe in you.
In regards to the song, Louie says that our primary relationship is the relationship we have with our creator. He says that we could modify the song in a pretty significant way and say that, “If anything’s going to change in the world, it’s not going to be because of our perception of ourselves. It’s going to be because of us believing in God’s perception of who we are.”
That’s why looking at ourselves through God’s mirror is crucially important. Believing in God’s perception of who we are. God is the one who defines us, and we should find our value in what He says about us. I love this easy to remember thought…
Whatever you believe about you is mostly based on what you told you about yourself. (repeat)
Keep that in the back of your mind and let’s go ahead and look at the second commandment that Jesus mentioned. Love the LORD your God, and second…
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF
Jesus tied these two thoughts together as one. John does the same thing in chapter four of first John. The way he does it is very similar to what we have already talked about. God didn’t just love us, but He loved us SO much, that our only logical response is to love Him in return. John says that God loved us SO much, that our only logical response is to love each other in return…
7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.
I’m gonna give you another Louie Giglio quote. He had a lot of great stuff to say on this subject. He is the pastor of Passion City Church and the founder of the Passion Movement and sixsteprecords. His record company supports Chris Tomlin, the David Crowder Band, Charlie Hall, Matt Redman, Passion, Kristian Stanfill, and Christy Nockels. He has been a part of multiple Grammy nominated projects and awarded Dove Awards for songwriting and Passion Event recordings. He is heavily involved in the music industry.
When talking about worship, he made this insightful observation. We often come to church and praise and thank God. We sing with all of our hearts, “Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.” He says, “We say that is my truth, but do you know how you know that that’s true about you? You know that’s true about you in the way that you interact with the people around you. Because what I’ve discovered is that we love to celebrate the shovel, but we’re really better at dispensing the spoon.”
Someone needs some compassion, well here you go. I’ll give you some compassion. You need to be forgiven, oh, well because I am a Jesus person I will give you some forgiveness. First, I may need to pray about it, talk to my accountability group, fast during the night for a few years, and then get back to you. Often we are better at celebrating the shovel, and dispensing the spoon.
Dispensing with a spoon says something extremely important about me. The spoon says that it’s not about you, it’s about me. In other words, when I share grace with a spoon, it doesn’t mean that you must not deserve grace. What it does mean is that I haven’t fully received what God is shoveling.
Here is another way to think about it. My relationship with God is my primary relationship. The most important relationship I have. My first response to God loving me is to love Him in return. “Love the LORD your God.” The second command is to “Love my neighbor AS myself.” So, what is my second most important relationship? You would think it’s my relationship with my wife, my daughter, or someone else close to me. The way this statement is worded, my second most important relationship is actually… ME.
The implication in Jesus’ statement makes the assumption that, as humans, we already love ourselves. I mean, when you think about it, you spend more time with you than any other human alive. You listen to you more than you listen to any one else. You talk to yourself the most. You believe more about yourself based on what you say about you than what anyone else says.
Paul even warns that when you talk to you, be honest with you about you…
3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
Be honest with yourself about who are by evaluating yourself by looking in God’s mirror. Normally, when we read the scripture about the greatest commandment, even though we read the entire verse, we tend to stop at, “love your neighbor.” Or at the very least, we rarely discuss the, “as you love yourself.” Why? I believe it’s because I’m not fully receiving what God is shoveling.
We shouldn’t be afraid to love ourselves for who God says we truly are. Jesus didn’t say to love your neighbor INSTEAD of yourself. There is a big difference between pride, haughtiness, boastfulness and flat out being a lover of yourself, and loving you for who God says you are. In that same passage we just read from Paul, he says to let your bodies be a living and holy sacrifice to God. Listen to how he describes that sacrifice…
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Not copying the behavior and customs of the world, but letting God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. The world says to “live your truth. Listen to what you say about you! If you say you want to be different, you be different for you!”
When we let God change the way we think, we look into His mirror and listen to what HE says about us. We start with the man in GOD’S mirror. “If anything is going to change the world, it’s not going to be because of our perception of ourselves. It’s going to be because of us believing in God’s perception of who we are.” When I look into THAT mirror I see what God says about me. And He says…
GOD’S MIRROR LIST
Hey, guess what… I love you. Guess why? Cause I want to. Not because you’ve earned it or deserve it. I just love you. Then, as I stare into that mirror and start to see who I really am it begins to sink in… I am loved!
When I was preparing for today I thought a lot about Macayla. She isn’t a very sentimental person, so when Amy or I would tell her something sweet and tell her we love her she would always respond with something like, “Yeah, I’m pretty awesome.” My first thought was always, “hmm… proud much?” But this got me to thinking… What if she had have said, “How could you love someone like me. I’m not a very good person. I’m not who I should be. I don’t deserve it.” Then I realized, in a strange way, that would be the prideful statement because she would be choosing her own opinion over ours.
When God says, “Chad, I love you,” shouldn’t my response be, “Yes, God! Because of you, I am awesome!” In truth, it’s not humble to respond to God’s love by claiming something different about myself. Thank you God, I am loved!
Embrace the person who God says that you are. He loves you. He is grateful for you. To Him you are a rare and a beautiful treasure. Now, I am not recommending that the next time you meet someone new you introduce yourself as a rare and beautiful treasure. If you do, the consequences are on you! But you should step out from behind the mirror every day knowing that that is who you are. Knowing that you are loved, appreciated, and valued.
Knowing that you are forgiven. The mistakes of the past don’t have to weigh me down and keep me from running the race that God has called me to today. I am forgiven and free from that bondage to sin. It is for freedom that Christ has set me free and through Him I am an overcomer!
As I look in the mirror I can also see that God has expectations for me. His great love for me creates a desire in me to love Him back. It also creates a desire to love my neighbor. Sometimes that feels more like a responsibility or even a chore than it feels like a desire. Sometimes I won’t feel like doing the right thing or avoiding the wrong places, but now I live for a higher standard. I am an ambassador for the living God!
As an ambassador, I have a special calling. God has something special that He has created me to do. My life has purpose and meaning!
He has called me because He believes in me. How many of you have ever been cheered for? When I was in high school I was on a mission trip in Iowa. Youth groups from all over the Country were there and we had to sleep in a school building. At night, several of us guys would go to the gym and play basketball. One night this random girl showed up and asked for my name. The rest of the time we played she would cheer for me almost non-stop. As strange as that was, I don’t think I have ever played a better basketball game!
On some of our bicycle rides there will be people lining the streets clapping and cheering as we pass by. At the end of the 100 mile ride in Texas you will be struggling with each pedal stroke, but as soon as you see people on the side of the road clapping and cheering you immediately get this rush of energy and charge to the finish. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone was there cheering for you while you are struggling to get out of bed or pull out of the driveway? When you are like, “Ugghh, I don’t want to do this today.”
The God that chose you is! He is cheering for you. He believes in you. “Chad, you’ve got this today! You can do it! I believe in you!” When you get home after a long day and think, “Nobody appreciated me today. All this work went unnoticed.” Stop lying to yourself! You are believing what you told you about yourself.
It’s time to believe in God’s perception about who you are. It’s time to look at yourself through the right mirror. If you want to change the world, start with the man in that mirror.