Saturday, February 10, 2007

In His Image

I once read an ancient legend that tells the story of a king who conquered and ruled over a vast empire.
He was brave and respected but he was not loved by his people. This depressed him and made him bitter in his loneliness , etching deep lines on a face that never smiled.
One day as he was riding some distance from his palace he saw a beautiful young woman and he fell in love with her. He thought about her all the way home and determined that she would be his wife. He dressed in his finest robes and placed his most bejeweled crown on his head to go court her… but when he looked into the mirror he saw his hard and cruel face and knew that the lovely girl would find nothing in him to love.
He was very distressed and for days could not eat or sleep , his thoughts continually fixated on the beautiful maiden and how much he wanted her to be his queen.
Then one day he had a brilliant idea!
He called for his magician and said, “Make me a mask that will make my face look kind and gentle… use your best materials and do your very best work.”
The magician agreed … but with one stipulation. “I will paint your mask but when I put the mask on your face you must hold your face in the same lines that I paint on the mask… one frown or display of anger and the mask will be ruined.”
The king was ready to agree to anything.. as long as it would enable him to win the beautiful maiden’s hand in marriage. “I will do anything , “he replied… “Just tell me how to keep the mask from cracking.”
“You must think kind thoughts, “ replied the magician, “and you must do kind deeds to encourage kind thoughts. Instead of adding territory to your kingdom, you must instead think about how to make the people of your kingdom happy. You must replace your anger with love and peaceful words and acts of kindness.”
The king gave his word that he would follow the magician's instructions.
The magician made the mask of the finest material and skillfully painted it to look so real that no-one would suspect it to be a mask.
When it was finished the king tried it on - it fit perfectly and when he looked in the mirror he could not believe the handsome young king that looked back at him.
Now he had no difficulty in persuading the lovely maiden to be his queen.
The king was careful to follow the counsel of the magician and kept his face under the mask in same pleasant lines. He showed kindness to all his subjects and became known for his gentle ways. The people credited his wife with the change they saw in their king….they said that she had made him over to be like herself.
Months went by and as the king’s heart changed, he began to feel convicted that he was dishonest in pretending to be something he was not. The fact that he had deceived the woman he loved so dearly , weighed heavily upon his conscience.
Though the thought of losing her broke his heart, he could bear his shame no longer and he once more called for his magician.
“Take this mask off! I can no longer pretend to be what I am not !” he cried.
The magician warned that if he took the mask off he could never make another and the king would have to live with his face the way it was for the rest of his life.
The king knew he had to be honest , no matter what the cost… though his heart twisted in pain at the thought of what his beautiful wife would think of him when she saw who he really was.
The magician removed the mask… and the king , filled with anguish slowly turned toward the mirror. He lifted his eyes - fully expecting to see his old familiar cruel face….. but to his utter amazement the face that looked back at him in the mirror was the exact likeness of the mask he had worn.
His wife never knew the difference … she only saw the man that she loved.

When I read this fable, I realized that it was a wonderful portrayal of II Cor. 3:18 which says….”But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory , just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Before we knew the Lord, we were selfish and self centered, caring more about what we could get than what we could give. Our hearts were hard and we were often less than kind or loving.
Then we met the Lord and became His bride.
Looking into His beautiful face- learning to know Him, thinking His thoughts and speaking His words - we are changed, from glory to glory !
Our old nature falls away.. and gradually, the lines of the fruit of the Spirit are etched upon our face and, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
We are changed from who we were into the very image of who He is.
Though we may not be aware of how we are changing , the people around us will notice.

And may they then say about us what they said about Peter....
“This person also was with Jesus.”

1 comment:

Yokooso said...

I love this that we, being close to our Father, will gradually become more like Him relfecting the fruits of the Spirti, so beautiful!