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Many years ago I saw the popular Christian speaker Louie Giglio perform a sermon illustration that I thought was rather impactful. As a young youth minister, I was quick to take something that was helpful and use it in my own sermons.

The illustration involved Louie taking a long mirror and discussing how we were created to reflect God. He would talk of how Adam and Eve perfectly reflected God to the rest of the world.

I used this illustration on several occasions. Often times, I ended up blinding half the congregation as the bright stage lights would reflect off the mirror directly into the pupil of some unsuspecting kid. I could just hear the lawsuits coming as a parent described my actions that exploded the retina of little Johnny with the power of a thousand suns.

In spite of the possible legal ramifications I continued using the mirror illustration in sermons. The dramatic turning point arrived when I would take a rock, and pretend to pluck it from some invisible tree, illustrating Eve taking the forbidden fruit. This followed with a swift swing of my arm which shattered the mirror, leaving the audience gasping in shock.

It was a great way to show the damage of sin. It was an even greater way to slice your hand open on broken glass. I still hold the record at one Christian camp for being the speaker who bled the most on the stage.

The last time I performed this illustration several fingers were deeply lacerated by broken shards of glass. I did my best to conceal the ever-growing flow of blood racing down my hand onto the floor from the youth pastors and students in the congregation, but those in the worship band behind me quietly requested a medic because they were certain I would collapse at any moment. That evening I gave one of the fastest alter calls in history and quickly made my way off the stage with most people never realizing I had injured my hand.

It’s a shame that such a good illustration comes at such a high risk of dismemberment because it says so much about why we exist. Though the image gets broken because of sin, our duty to reflect God never changes. Our ability to be imagers was tarnished but our purpose to reflect God to others still remains. You can still do what you were created to do.

However, instead of walking through the garden being the crystal clear imagers that God created us to be, we walk through valleys that loom with the shadow of death. We walk through pain and sorrow, heartache and loss. Yet in spite of our change in topography, our role as imagers remains.

What do you reflect? Do your personal aspirations reflect the kingdom of your choosing? Or are you learning to look more Jesus?

So many people struggle with doubt and depression, worn out from attempting to build their own kingdom. Something within them compels them to build, so they punch the clock one more time and drag themselves through a day that offers little-to-no reward, always wondering why the kingdom they are building doesn’t satisfy. The answer is simple; it’s the wrong kingdom you are building.

Others are not depressed at all. They strive at the chance to keep building. They set a goal, reach it and then press on harder to the next prize. Yet apart from building the right kingdom we build nothing but sand castles that are washed away by the coming tide. And the tide always comes.

Few people are remembered for more than a generation after they pass. Even those we once held dear, their names become something we only mention quietly at holiday gatherings. It is likely that my great-great-grandkids will know little or nothing about me.

So unless I am a part of building God’s eternal kingdom, whatever I build is futile. My prayer is that as you grow, people will see less and less of you and more of God and His sanctuary of Grace.