Moses and Eleanor
What could Moses and Eleanor Rigby possibly have in common? The fictitious Ms. Rigby kept her face in a jar by the door and Moses covered his with a veil. Who knows, he might even have kept his in an urn by his bed. In public, they both wore false faces fabricated presentations of themselves.
Every human being struggles with this problem. Have you walked into a bookstore lately and noticed all the popular books on self-awareness? Have you walked into a Christian bookstore lately and noticed all the popular books on self-awareness? We all try hard to present our best possible self, often at the expense of the real us.
Unfortunately, those most often in the public eye are those with the greatest propensity for wearing false faces: singers, actors, politicians, and pastors. The more promising the position the more painstaking must be the preparation of the perfect image. Some people even go so far as to change their names.
Against this backdrop, Christians are called to maintain integrity. That's a hard thing to do, because wearing our real face
in this setting would reveal the very imperfections that we cover to prove our ability. Who wants to be a human being in the company of gods? And so we wear our faces like Eleanor and cover our flaws like Moses, removing them only when we are alone and wondering who we are.
"With that kind of hope to excite us, we are very bold. Unlike Moses, we have nothing to hide. Everything is out in the open with us. He wore a veil so the children of Israel wouldn't notice that the glory was fading away" (2 Cor. 3: 12, 13). In these verses Paul reveals the reason for Moses' masquerade. He was hiding something: failure, fear, and inadequacy. We all do the same, creating a false self because we are not even sure who the true one is.
There are some people, however, who don't have this problem, and Jesus was quick to point them out for us. They are the children.
Jesus loved the little children. He told us we would have to be like children if we are to enter the kingdom of God. This analogy of the Lord's is usually taken to be an admonition toward a simple, childlike faith. But there is another aspect of children directly related to our struggle with presenting ourselves.
Little children are unconscious of self. They laugh when they're happy, cry when they hurt, and burp when they're full. My little guy, Christopher, has no qualms whatsoever about revealing the deepest family secrets to any listener. Isn't this what we find so appealing about children: their unconscious, unveiled innocence?
I believe it is this kind of freedom Paul is talking about then he says "we are very bold." Like a little child, Paul is not operating from a platform of self-awareness. He had found himself to be inadequate, so he quit searching there; he looked to the Lord who is adequate for all things. He realized it was not his ministry, but God's ministry in and through him. He found, just as we can, that the effectiveness of God's ministry through him continued even when he himself was failing or making mistakes.
Paul was free from self and all the accompanying masks and veils that become necessary when the self proves inadequate and it always will. This is exactly what he meant when he said, "But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor. 3:16, 17). Where is the Spirit of the
Lord? He is in us; therefore we are free!
Nothing to lose. Nothing to hide. This is the confidence that is possible in our lives when we turn from ourselves and look to the Lord. It's an open, honest, bold, frank, sometimes blunt, and almost reckless confidence. It's a free-of-self confidence.
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:18, NIV). This is Paul's glorious conclusion. As we look to the Lord, He will be reflected out through our unveiled lives. Not only do we reflect Him today, but His reflection becomes clearer each day; more and more of Him can be seen in us as we trust Him more and more.
"Know thyself," said Socrates. Well, that's not hard. I took a good long look and found a weak, scared, inadequate, self-centered, non-caring individual. "Know thy Lord," commands Paul, in effect, "and you will begin to reflect His glorious nature through your mortal life." Even in Christ we can't fully know ourselves. We have only a small idea of what we are becoming.
Finally, notice who's in charge of the image. He's transforming us. He is the image-maker. It's no longer necessary to keep an extra face in a jar by the door. With the Spirit of God alive in our lives, the one we have will do just fine.
Chapter 9 || Table of Contents