I had the delight of designing our small house in Mexico. We wanted lots of windows to let in light and warmth from the sun. The house, like most homes in Mexico, has no central heat. The result is three skylights, high windows on the tallest east-facing wall. There are also a large window and sliding glass door on the east wall to let in the morning sun. The other large pieces of glass in the home are several mirrors into which we can look in order to make ourselves presentable beyond our front door.
It occurred to me that these three forms of glass in our home, the skylights, windows, and mirrors, can be seen as metaphors on how we should live life. The skylights reveal the upward view, the heavenly view: the sun, blue sky, clouds, moon, and stars. The windows reveal the horizontal view: the hills, trees, grass, and people beyond our house. The mirrors reveal a reflection of ourselves: hair, face, body, and expression.
The order in which I’ve listed the three types of glass in our home is intentional and in order of priority. This order is not of my own making but that of the book I’ve studied, preached, and written about for over 50 years, the Bible.
The skylight look, the upward look, the vertical look, toward God is most important. The first commandment the Bible lists, both in the Old Testament and by Jesus in the New Testament, is to love God with all we’ve got. Everything else tends to fall into place when you get first things first, and the first thing is a connection with God like we have with no one else or nothing else. Anything else in first place becomes an idol. Look up first!
The window look, the outward look, the horizontal look, toward others is next in importance. The second great commandment in the Bible is to love others, again, stated both in the Old Testament and by Jesus. What adds value to our own life is when we add value to the lives of those God’s put within our sphere of influence. This second commandment says to love others as we love ourselves, meaning we should watch out for the good of others like we most often do for ourselves, except even more so.
The mirror look, the reflecting look, toward ourselves is to be last in priority. This doesn’t mean we neglect our own needs, we aren’t much good to either God or others if we do. It’s just that we’re not to live self-focused, self-centered lives, always looking to see how things reflect on us.
This order of priorities is counter-cultural. The world around us, self-help books, and celebrity talk show hosts promote loving self first, loving others is usually second on the list, and God comes in a distant third, hardly getting mentioned at all (at best maybe some vague reference about spirituality).
Yes, our house has skylights, windows, and mirrors. Now you know the reason why I listed them in this order!
“‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’” Mark 12:28b-31