carnival

It is almost that time of year.

Candy apples, cotton candy, hot dogs, burgers, sausage, and anything you can imagine on a stick.

Music shows.
Weight guessers.
Games of chance.
And rides.

Lots and lots of rides.

Rides that spin fast.
Rides that twirl high.
Rides that swing wide…
Makes a fellow all dizzy just thinking about it.

It’s been a long time since I wasted my money at the State Fair.
The last time I was there, I rode in some kind of spinning, twirling teacup.
And all my food was wasted.

Yeah.

At this stage of my life, I try to ignore any hints or avoid any suggestion that somehow involves me going to the State Fair.
Especially with children.
Especially with children.

Call me the Grinch of the fall season. I played him once at a 2nd grade Christmas Party. It was fun and felt quite natural.
I’d have no qualms playing him again.

However, there is one attraction I am fascinated by.

Want to take a guess?

If you guessed the freak show, wrong answer. I spend way too much of my own time feeling like a freak myself… I have no need to stare at two headed calf or a man with real horns growing out of his head.

But if you guessed the Fun House or the House of Mirrors, you got it right!

Take a walk through one those and you’ll see yourself distorted in every way imaginable, none of them good.

Sure, it’s a silly diversion and quite comical too. But what if we quit laughing for a moment and considered how the local Church often functions as a house of mirrors?

A house of mirrors?
Yes, a house of mirrors.

To my shame, I have a lot of experience allowing the church to shape my view of myself… Being put on a pedestal, having your ego stroked, being seen as some kind of scholar or biblical authority… It can be very dangerous and detrimental to your spiritual health. Even more so when you begin believing your own hype…

But I am not the only one in danger of a house-of-mirrors or fun house church.
Not by a long shot.

Too many of us come to church for the wrong kind of affirmation. We provide mirrors for each other that distort our behaviors and change the view of our hearts.

Here’s an example I hear quite often: “He or she is a faithful member of the church.”
I bet you already know what constitutes faithfulness?
Attendance!

Really?
Yes, really.

Have you ever heard the old line about how sitting in the garage doesn’t make you a car?

At this point, our expression of what constitutes faithfulness is quite shallow. But then again, shallowness is often the bane of the church—the bane of our own Christianity.

Here is a generalization I feel comfortable with: many of us struggle with a shallow relationship with God caused by a distorted view of our own worthiness.

What if we stood before a fun house that showed us what Isaiah once said? What if we shouted for the world to “look at me” and read…

We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we display our righteous deeds,
they are nothing but filthy rags.
Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
and our sins sweep us away like the wind. (Isaiah 64:6 NLT)

At the end of the day I cannot depend on any man made mirror to see what I really look like.
We can certainly with much mercy and grace help each other, but only God’s word provides the true mirror of our heart and soul!

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 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. (James 1:22-25 NLT)

May the Word instruct and the Spirit convict!

Les Ferguson, Jr.