At least once a day, I look in the mirror. It is generally before I leave the house. I want to be sure the image that others will see is the image that I think they will see. Unlike the photo of the cat, I’ve never been surprised to see a better image of myself. (Though I think God can!) What if we could see more than our appearance when we look in the mirror? What if we could see character?
The final verse of the first chapter of Titus, we are given an image of the people of Crete. “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” This is a mild assessment compared to what Amos sees when he looks at the people of Israel (“you cows of Bashan” – 4:1). Both Paul (for the people of Crete) and Amos (for the people of Israel) want to see something more than can be seen. The question is whether the people can be changed.
What is the image of God? In Psalm 86:5, 15, God is described as “forgiven and good, abounding in love to all who call” and “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” But as Amos prophecies, the day is coming when God will no longer intervene on behalf of the people and the Assyrian army will eliminate the entire nation. It is not what God wants. God wants a relationship. God wants the people to reflect the image God has created them to be (remember Genesis 1). The question for the people of Crete is whether the message of the gospel will bring about change. God sends prophets to show us who we truly are. God sends teachers such as Paul and Titus. God sends people into our lives to show us a truer picture of who we are – inside and out. Often others see what we do not.
God even sends us Jesus who can change us from inside to out. So that the image God sees is the image that others see – and is the image that I see.
Today’s readings: Amos 4-6; Psalm 86-87; Titus 1