Reflect or Refract?

Reflection is defined as ” something that shows the effect, existence, or character of something else.” That definition made me wonder how my life shows the effect, existence or character of God. I fear I refract God’s image more than I reflect it, and that’s something I hope to change in the coming year. It’s very humbling to think that God manifests Himself in the lives of His children.

There’s an old saying which asks, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” I would add another. Do you resemble Christ enough to be recognized as one of His brothers or sisters? No one reflected God’s love and light as Christ. I’m thankful God doesn’t expect me to be perfect. Christ did that in my place and allowed God to see His image each time He looks at me. He does, however, expect me not to bend, twist, or break His image as I live out my life.

Refraction is similar to reflection, but there is an important difference. The image is changed as the wave passes through a medium such as water. The straw in this glass is an image that helps me remember that I can break and distort God’s precious love if I’m not careful.

Refraction

The straw doesn’t appear to be connected, and that is what happens when the individual members of Christ’s body refract rather than reflect His love. Instead of letting God be God, His children insist on using Him for their own good. If I use God’s name or image, I better do so with a great deal of caution. I am not God, and I certainly do not need to defend Him. He doesn’t want His children to fight over who is right and who knows or loves Him best. That creates dysfunction in all families and breaks a parent’s heart to pieces.

I know the right thing to do. Two-year-olds know it. When right is refracted, it becomes what I think is right or what I want to be right. That causes a distortion much like the straw above. Doing the right thing is rarely easy, but I cannot twist the right thing to suit my needs or desires. James 4:16-17 describes what happens when I refract instead of reflect.

“But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” NASB

Arrogance is about being right. Obedience is about doing right. There is a big difference that changes the way I see myself, God, and others. More importantly, it changes the way others see God. It is my fervent prayer that I will reflect and not refract God’s love in the coming year. Brokenness and distortion lead to arguments that tear Christ’s body into jagged pieces. Wholeness and clarity cause the oneness Christ came to make possible. The Holy Spirit smoothes jagged edges and makes unity a beautiful reality in my heart and in a world with far too many rough edges.

I have a dear friend who teaches science, and she would add, “and when it diffracts,there is an apparent bending of waves around small obstacles and the spreading out, which allows God’s light to shine from oneself~to other.” I agree wholeheartedly Anne Watkins 🙂

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