Reflect | Jesus In You

Robert Fulghum, who is the author of the book All I Really Needed to Know I Learned In Kindergarten, tells about a conference he once attended in Greece. On the last day of the conference, the discussion leader walked over to the bright light of an open window and looked out. Then he asked if there were any questions.

 

Fulghum laughingly asked him what was the meaning of life. Everyone laughed and got ready to leave. But the leader held up his hand to ask for silence, saying, “I will answer your question.”

 

He took his wallet out of his pocket and removed a small, round mirror about the size of a quarter. Then he told this story:

 

“When I was a small child during World War II, we were very poor and lived in a remote village. One day on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.

 

“I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible. So I kept the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone, I made it round.

 

“I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun could never shine. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.

 

“I kept the little mirror, and as I grew up, I would take it out at idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game, but a metaphor of what I could do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light — be it truth or understanding or knowledge — is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.

 

“I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have, I can reflect light into the dark places of this world — into the dark places of human hearts — and change some things in some people. Perhaps others seeing it happen will do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.”

 

For those of you that are worshiping with us in person, when you walked into our sanctuary space today, we handed you a small piece of a mirror. And when we handed you that small piece of a mirror, you probably wondered why.

 

The story I just told you is why. We gave you that small piece of a mirror to remind you that we are all a fragment of a mirror that is meant to reflect light into the dark places of this world. Or to put it another way for you, as followers of Jesus, we are supposed to be like mirrors. We’re supposed to reflect the light of Jesus in our lives.

 

 We’re supposed to reflect the light of Jesus in our lives.

 

And I was reminded of just how important it is for us to reflect the light of Jesus through our lives just a few days ago when I was looking at my Facebook memories. Now, this particular memory took place seven years ago, when Hannah was three. Hannah and I had just finished up her bedtime routine of reading a Bible story or two, and then Ashley and I got ready put Hannah to bed.

 

Well, on this particular night, Hannah wanted to tell her mommy about the Bible stories we had just read. And after she finished, Ashley asked her, “Hannah, what does Jesus teach us?” And Hannah’s little eyebrows furrowed as she thought for a few seconds. And then she said, “Jesus teaches us to be polite, to listen, and to watch cartoons.”

 

Now, at first, I thought that this was just another case of kids saying the darnedest things. But the more I thought about it, the more I understood that Hannah’s answer was her way of telling us how Ashley and I were reflecting Jesus.

 

Here’s what I mean, even at three, Hannah knew that her daddy works at church. And she knew that our whole family worships God every Sunday morning. So she knows that we love God and Jesus.

 

So Hannah figured out that her mommy and daddy were trying to teach her the things that Jesus wanted her to know. And when she was three, we spent a lot of time trying to teach her about being polite and listening…because those are vital lessons that every three-year-old needs to learn. And we also spent a lot of time watching cartoons together, because when Hannah was three there weren’t very many things she enjoyed more than watching an episode of Paw Patrol or Doc McStuffins.

 

So Hannah learned that Jesus teaches us to be polite, to listen, and to watch cartoons because that was the Jesus that Ashley and I reflected to Hannah. Or to put it as simply as I can, my daughter sees Jesus through me.

 

And just saying that last sentence is enough to make me think about the B.B. McKinney hymn “Let Others See Jesus In You.” Now, this hymn is written by the same guy who gave us other classic hymns like “Have Faith In God” and “Wherever He Leads I’ll Go.” So you know that “Let Others See Jesus In You” is going to be a meaningful song.

 

And what does this hymn say? Well, let me remind you of the first couple of verses. 

 

While passing through this world of sin, 

And others your life shall view, 

Be clean and pure without, within, 

Let others see Jesus in you. 

 

Let others see Jesus in you, 

Let others see Jesus in you; 

Keep telling the story, be faithful and true,

Let others see Jesus in you. 

 

Your life's a book before their eyes

They're reading it through and through;

Say, does it point them to the skies,

Do others see Jesus in you? 

 

Now, I can’t hear the second verse of that song without thinking of something that one of my former youth ministers liked to say. He liked to say, “your life is the only Bible that some people will ever read.”

 

 Your life is the only Bible that some people will ever read.

 

Take just a second and think about what that statement means. If your life is the only Bible that your children will ever read, will they see Jesus in you? If your life is the only Bible that the people worshiping with us right now will ever read, will they see Jesus in you? If your life is the only Bible that the cashier at Kroger or the person sitting behind you in traffic will ever read, will they see Jesus in you?

 

I think these are the kinds of questions that inspired the book of the Bible that we’re going to be taking a closer look at over the next few weeks. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be taking a closer look at the book of James. 

 

Now, like most of the New Testament, the book of James is actually a letter. But unlike most of the letters we find in the New Testament, James didn’t write his letter to members of a specific church in a specific city. Instead, James wrote his letter to followers of Jesus who were scattered everywhere. And James wanted to remind everyone who would read this letter that no matter where they lived followers of Jesus were supposed to be different. Followers of Jesus aren’t supposed to live like everyone else. 

 

And we’re not supposed to live like everyone else because we belong to Jesus. This is how James explains it in the first chapter of his letter –starting in James 1:17 – he writes:

 

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

 

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

 

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

 

James 1:17-25 (New International Version)

 

In verse 18 of this passage, James uses an unusual analogy for anyone who follows Jesus. James calls followers of Jesus the first fruits of all he created. But what in the world are first fruits? 

 

Well, believe it or not, the term first fruits appears at least 33 different times in the Bible showing up everywhere from Exodus to Revelation. And first fruits are an offering that the people of Israel were expected to bring to the temple or the tabernacle. And Deuteronomy 26:1-10 tells us why the people of Israel were expected to offer these first fruits. This is what it says:

 

26 When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, 2 take some of the first fruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name 3 and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the land the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” 

 

4 The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God. 5 Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: 

 

“My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. 6 But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor. 7 Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. 8 So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. 9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; 10 and now I bring the first fruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me.” 

 

Deuteronomy 26:1-10 (New International Version)

 

So what exactly are first fruits? Well, first fruits are more than just an offering that the people of Israel were expected to bring to the temple or to the tabernacle. First fruits are really a way to remind the people of Israel about everything that God has done for them. As this passage we just read points out, God saved the people of Israel from famine. God delivered the people of Israel from slavery. And God brought the people of Israel to the Promised Land…a land flowing with milk and honey.

 

So when James calls us – as followers of Jesus – to be these first fruits too, James is telling us that we are called to show the world what Jesus has done for us. We’re supposed to be mirrors that reflect the light of Jesus in our lives. 

 

And why are we supposed to do reflect Jesus in our lives? Why are we supposed to show the world what Jesus has done for us? Well, if we are the first fruit of Jesus that implies that there might be more fruit in the kingdom of God. 

 

And that's the beauty of what offering the first fruits really meant to the people of Israel. The first fruits were the very first things that the people of Israel harvested each year. So, after months of winter, after weeks of planting and cultivating and tilling, the people would go out into the fields with their sickles in hand, and then they would harvest the first things that sprouted up from the ground. This was the first fruit…the very first food that had grown in months.

 

And what do the people of Israel do with this first fruit? Well, they would turn around, put the food that they just harvested into a basket — the very first things that had grown that entire season — and they would take them to the temple as a sacrifice. And they did it because they believe that the first fruits will not be the last fruit.

 

 The first fruits will not be the last fruits. 

 

And by offering these first fruits to God, the people of Israel showed that they trusted that God had more in store for them. Otherwise, if they thought the first fruit was the only thing they would harvest that year, they never would have brought the very first things to come out of the ground to God. 

 

As followers of Jesus, we believe that God has more in store for His Kingdom than just the first fruit as well. We believe that the field is white unto the harvest…so we believe that we're just the first ones who were brought in from that field. 

 

But this harvest is never going to be brought in – more people will never begin a relationship with Jesus – unless we realize that the only way that others will come to Jesus is to see Jesus in us. 

 

And we all know this is true. We all know that no one will come to Jesus unless they’re led. We’ve heard this message preached over and over again…but even though we’ve heard this message, that doesn’t mean we’ve done much about it. That’s why James tells us, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

 

When I look at my life, I know that I'm not always a doer of the word. I don't always let others see Jesus in me. There are times when I lose my patience. There are times when I lose my temper. There are times when I let tasks take priority over people.

 

But when I saw that Facebook memory, and I was reminded that my daughter still sees Jesus through me today, through me today, I want to do a better job of reflecting Jesus. I want Jesus to be the core of my identity. I want to be the first fruit so that Hannah can be the next fruit. 

 

And I know there's someone in your life right now that you want to be the next fruit. It might be your child or grandchild. It might be a nephew or a niece. It might be a spouse or sibling. It could be an old friend or a new co-worker that you've only known for a few months. But there's someone in your life right now, who needs to find Jesus. 

 

So I want you to take the piece of mirror we gave you today. I want you to put it someplace where you’ll see it. And every time you look in the mirror, I want you to remember that the only way that others will find Jesus is if they see Jesus in you.

 

 The only way others will find Jesus is if they see Jesus in you.