Disney’s animated movie, The Lion King, was one of the highest grossing animated movies of all time. Years later, when they released the live action version, it too became a blockbuster hit. When the original animation came out, I remember seeing it at the El Capitan in Hollywood. After that, I must’ve seen it 1000 more times. The part that gets me every time, is when Simba looks into the pond to see his reflection. Instead of seeing himself, he actually sees his father, Mufasa. This reminds me of what James says in the letter he writes to the early church.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 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.
In the early church, leaders would write a letter to a specific church and then that letter would be passed around to other churches to read. James is encouraging us to not just read or listen to God’s Word, but do what it says. Otherwise, we are only fooling yourselves. James says, “It’s like glancing at your face in a mirror.” A mirror in the physical shows you a reflection of the outside, but God’s Word shows you a reflection of what’s on the inside. Some of us have a love hate relationship with the mirror. Some don’t look in the mirror at all, while others look in the mirror way too much. But here’s the truth; the mirror shows you a reflection, but God’s Word shows you the way. Another way to say it is, we don’t just read God’s word, but God’s word reads us.
I often get emotional watching Simba looking at his reflection in the pond. Here he’s been living this life of lies that started with his Uncle Scar. Simba was told that he was the reason for his father’s death and that the family would reject him because of it. Now he’s been living in this deception for the past several years. He’s basically been on the run from his true calling until he runs into an old family friend. Rifiki tells him that he needs to see something and brings him to the water to see his reflection. At first Simba just sees himself, but then he sees the inside. He’s seeing that he’s made in the image of his father. At that moment, Simba is seeing past who he’s become and now seeing who he’s supposed to be. As a kid, I may have missed the significance of this scene, but later in my life when I became a follower of Jesus, it hit me. We need to remember who we are and who we were created to be.
Three Ways to Remember Who You Are:
1. Discover what God says about Himself
The first step to remembering who you are is to let God reveal Himself to you. If you aren’t sure how to do that , it’s by reading the Bible. The Bible is ultimately a story about who God is and a demonstration of his character. We see Him keeping his promise and having a plan for the chosen people in the Old Testament and continuing until the New Testament with the start of the early church. Can I encourage you, when you read the scriptures, actually look first to see what God reveals about himself?
2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT)
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
Hebrews 4:12 (NLT)
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
When we look at a mirror in the physical, we see the outside reflection. But when we look at God’s word, it’s like a mirror to our innermost thoughts and desires. If I can be honest with you, the times in my life where I find myself NOT reading the scriptures or NOT seeking God through the Bible, it’s usually because I’m in sin. In those times, I’m avoiding God’s Word because I know I’m not in a good place. I avoid looking at my reflection in God’s Word, because I already know that I’m not where I should be. The interesting thing is that when I go to God’s Word in those times, there’s a healing that’s available to me through God’s love even in my mess. Just when I am expecting to get a guilt trip from God, He instead gives me a grace trip. So no matter where you are today, you can go to God’s Word and He will reveal Himself to you.
Recently someone messaged me and said, “In light of these current events in America right now, what does that tell us about God?” I stopped him right there and said, “I’m not looking at culture to tell me about God. I’m looking for God to tell me about God.” If I look to our culture or society to tell me what God’s like, it’s gonna put me in a place of making some pretty big assumptions.
Every year, Maria and I go to marriage counseling. At one of our sessions, the councilor said, “You guys have been married for 16 years. But you’re already making assumptions, like, you know what the other one is doing.” It really hit me because I realized there’s things that Maria does where I immediately jump to conclusions. I think “She’s doing that, because of this…” Then there’s things that I do, where she just fills in the expectation gap and expects something from me. We both jump to assumptions because we’ve known each other for so long. I just wonder how many people are jumping to assumptions with God because you have known him for a while. You might start thinking things are happening in your life because God did them to you. But your assumptions aren’t actually lining up with the character of God. See, God wants to love you in a way that you never see coming. The problem is, if we’re operating off assumptions, we’re going to miss what God is doing.
When reading God’s Word, it’s not so that we will see ourselves but we will see God. Simba saw himself, then he saw his father’s reflection. At that moment, he had a heart change. When he saw himself, he saw what he always saw. But God wanted to show him something different. He wanted to show him, Himself. My encouragement for you is to first get a new believer’s Bible. When beginning to read the Bible, start with the scriptures that speak about who He is. It’s learning about God’s love that is going to change you as learn more about Him. As you learn more about God, you will be learning more about yourself. Remember, you were made in the image of the Creator.
2. Discover what God says about You
I have a friend of mine that I’m leading to Christ and discipling. This friend has been coming to church every week, so I put together a life journaling group. Each day we read one chapter in the book of John. We started on chapter one and will continue for 21 days. Someone told me that if do something for 21 days straight that it becomes a habit. If you have never read the Bible or don’t know where to start, I’d encourage you to start with John chapter one. At the end of 21 days, you will not only have finished the entire book of John, but you will also know a lot about who Jesus is. I am sure that setting aside that time to get to know who God is, will change your life.
As we began reading John, we came across this passage:
John 1:19-23 (NLT)
This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.”
“Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?”
“No,” he replied.
“Are you the Prophet we are expecting?”
“Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?”
John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“I am a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’”
The religious leaders of the time were threatened and confused by John the Baptist. They came out to test him and see what he said about himself. They didn’t really know what to do with John, because he’s the first prophet God has sent in the past three hundred years. He’s prophesying and leading a revolution by baptizing thousands of people in the wilderness. Not only that, but people’s hearts are now turning back to God. All of these things were puzzling to the religious leaders. They had to know if he was just a prophet or the Messiah that they’d been waiting for. John comes right out and tells them, “No. I am not the Messiah.” When pressed about who he was, John answered with scripture. If we want to know who we really are, we need to know who God says we are and what He has called us to be. John was able to tell everyone who he was based on what the Word of God says about him.
Knowing what the Word of God says about who we are, reveals our true identity. Do you know who you are? If you don’t, maybe you don’t know the word of God well enough yet. You were made in God’s image. The Bible tells us there are promises connected to your identity. I want you to know them backwards and forwards. The world will tell you who you are and label you as worthless, useless or someone that will always struggle. The world will tell you that you are your body type, sexuality, or call you names according to the generation you were born in. If we don’t know God’s Word, we won’t be able to answer a questioning world. The important question is, “Who are you?” We each need to be able to look at the world in confidence and say, “I’ll tell you exactly who I am.” Then tell them what God says about you.
If God is for us, who can be against us?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
If the truth will set us free, what is the truth? Jesus is the truth. What he teaches is the truth. If you want to know who you are or how to live? You need to go no further than to the person of Jesus. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” You want to know if you’re really God’s disciple or not? Then you need to not only know Jesus’ teachings, but you need to remain in Him. “If you remain in my teachings,” meaning it’s not just an experience with God’s word, it’s a relationship with the Truth himself, Jesus. You could know the Bible backwards and forwards and still not know God personally. There are a lot of people that know the philosophies of the Bible and know the historical stories without having a personal relationship with God. It’s not until you know Jesus personally, then you’re set free.
Simba is here looking in the pond when he sees his father Mufasa. It is only after he really sees his father that he begins to see himself. Once we know who God is, that we’re made his image, do we getting closer to the truth.
3. Discover what God says about His Plan
If you remember in elementary school, there were always the kids jump roping. If they were really good, they could even stand in the middle while two ropes were swinging around. What you will notice is that before someone jumps in, they observe how the ropes are swinging and wait until they get a feel for it. God already has a plan that is motion, too. God is already at work in your life, your family, your place of work and in the world. Some of us are waiting to jump in, but we need to know how to do it. I would encourage you to change your prayer. Instead of asking God to show you His plan for you, ask Him to show you His plan for the world. By changing your prayer, it will change your timing and help you know when to jump in.
Matthew 3:2 (NKJV)
“Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!”
If the Kingdom of God is at hand, then that means that God is already on the move. Maybe you like to be one of those that is turning the rope and are able to control what is happening around you. Simba wanted to control what he was doing and left his responsibilities to do his own thing.
God is at work, His plan is in motion and the Kingdom of God is at hand. You are invited to be a part of God’s plan if you will look and see what He is already doing.
Matthew 25:34-40 (NIV)
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
God cares about those that are hungry, are in need and are in prison. Look for ways to care for those in need around you. Maybe you are feeling lost and are looking for the way, His name is Jesus. He’s the Way, the Truth and the Life. If you don’t know where to go, just follow Jesus. If you don’t know what to believe, He’s the Truth. Maybe you are feeling dead inside, Jesus is also the Life. The world might have been hard on you or you feel broken and lost. The Lord would tell you that you are right where you need to be.
God wants you to remember who you are. Don’t be like the person James was talking about that knew who they were then quickly forgot about everything. Start today by reading one chapter in the book of John. I can guarantee that you will get to know who God is and he will continue to remind you of who He has created you to be.