Recently I wrote about my extremely brief theater career when I played the lead in my high school musical. I had the role of Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha. It was a glimpse into the future about how I would become a skinny, occasionally delusional old man with impossible dreams.
You may know that the play is based on Miguel de Cervantes’s seventeenth century novel Don Quixote. The musical unfolds as a play within a play, performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners as he awaits a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes takes on the character of “mad knight” Don Quixote and he assigns roles for the other prisoners. In my earlier post I wrote about one spiritual takeaway from the play.
How the gentle “knight errant” viewed the harlot Aldonza was the subject of that article. Quixote saw a lady and gentle spirit buried deep beneath the hardened and bitter exterior. Eventually she believed what the Man of La Mancha said about her and she left her old identity behind. Don Quixote was an agent of grace in her life.
One of the most powerful scenes in the play can also be applied to our Christian journey. The family and acquantances gather to consider how the “mad knight” can be quietly put away. He has become an embarrassement to them even though his efforts were harmless. They plan to stop him while singing how they are “only thinking of him”. The plan is to confront him in a room of mirrors so he can see who he really is. That he is not a courageous knight but a foolish old man. Here is a bit of that scene.
Look, Don Quixote. Look in the mirror of reality…
and behold things as they truly are.
Look, Don Quixote.
Look in the mirror of reality.
Look! What seest thou, Don Quixote?
A gallant knight? Naught but an aging fool.
Look, dost thou see him?
A madman dressed for a masquerade.
Look, Don Quixote. See him as he truly is.
See the clown.
Look, what seest thou, Don Quixote?
Look! Dost thou see him?
A madman! Look, Don Quixote!
See him as he truly is.
The accuser in the play was called the Knight of Mirrors.
Don’t most of us have that fear of being exposed for what we really are to God and to others? We have an accuser in our life as well. Satan is that accuser and he could play the Knight of Darkness to my spiritual knight errant. Whenever I begin to trust and grow in grace he holds the mirror of accusation. If I rewrote the scene above it would look something like this.
Look, Dave Burchett. Look in the mirror of reality…
and behold things as they truly are.
What do you see? A saint? A righteous man?
Naught but a sinner. A man who desires to do the right thing but does the opposite.
How can you love this God and still fail so miserably?
Look! You are a loser dressed for a masquerade called church.
For too many years I believed the accusations. I am learning to look into the mirror and see someone that I accept by faith and not by my performance. I see a saint. That’s right. Many (maybe all) of Satan’s accusations are true. But what I now see is a man who is a saint. I found twenty-nine references to the “saints” in Paul’s writings. I am pretty sure from the content of his writings that they were not always behaving like saints. They were saints because of Christ and not by meticulously following the law.
God sees those who trust Jesus as holy. No matter how many accusations are thrown at me God sees me as holy. Amazing.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1, NLT)
That is my (and your) identity. Holy and without fault in His eyes. I will be accused again and probably sooner than later. But I am learning to simply say this to myself.
“That is not who I am anymore. I am a saint who sometimes sins. I am holy because of Christ.”
I pray that is what you see when you look in the mirror of the accuser.