Lying Filters and Concave Mirrors

In the gardens of Burghley House, a number of mirrors have been positioned, such as one might find in an old-fashioned fairground or fun house; doubtless, this helps to justify the high cost of the ticket. One mirror caused me to look thin, another fat. The first mirror gave a more welcome reflection than the second, though in the eighteenth century, when plumpness was considered attractive (because it indicated wealth), the second I would find more congenial.

These old fairground mirrors are the antique equivalents of modern social media ‘filters’, in which an online app can improve our appearance, or otherwise. The Bible, in contrast, paints a picture of us that never flatters or comforts. Like Dorian Gray’s portrait, it depicts how inbuilt wickedness has desecrated our heart, stupefied our spirit, and scarred our inner countenance. While providing a bleak assessment of human morals, it also shows us Christ and His contrasting beauty, holiness and wisdom. Our newly found self-awareness of sin and corruption causes us to flee to Him who will in no wise cast us out.

We flatter and assure ourselves that we are better than we truly are; God’s word proclaims the awful truth, and the wonderful remedy which is Jesus Christ:

Other refuge have I none;

hangs my helpless soul on thee;

leave, ah! leave me not alone,

still support and comfort me.

All my trust on thee is stayed,

all my help from thee I bring;

cover my defenceless head

with the shadow of thy wing.

-Charles Wesley