and what things you learned and received and heard and saw in me, practice these things, Philippians 4:9
In Me – The truth is that the combination of these two tiny words (en emoi – “in me”) scares me to death. I simply can’t imagine telling someone to look at me, listen to me, study from me and discover God’s peace! But that’s exactly what Paul says. How is this possible? Is Paul such a saint that I can never step into his shoes – let alone the shoes of Jesus? Am I hopelessly condemned to a standard I will never achieve?
I don’t think so.
I remember that Paul is also Saul, the man who terrorized the church and who was feared by followers of the Way. I remember that it was Paul who wrote those agonizing words of Romans 7 – “who will deliver me from this body of death?” I remember that this same Paul cried out to God three times to be rescued from a continuous “messenger from Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Perhaps he is not so different after all. What makes Paul a man who can tell others to look at him and see that the peace of God is not in his saintliness? It is his total acceptance of God’s surpassing grace in the life of a sinful man. I see the peace of God in Paul because I see through Paul into the face of Jesus. It’s not Paul who is on display. It’s the Christ who rescued that sinner Paul, a man just like me. And if the people in his presence could see Jesus through the struggle, disobedience, heartache, trials and victories of Paul, then I guess they might be able to see Jesus through all of my frustrations as well.
It was never about me. It could never have been about me. I am just a sinner saved by grace. Just like you. Just like Paul.
So, read the gospel in my life – and see what God can do with someone so unworthy. That’s the only reason to look at me. You will discover God’s peace, because if God can do something with the mess of my life, then He can certainly do something in your life too. Through the glass darkly – that’s the only way you can see Jesus in me.