Dec 13, 2012

What are you looking at?

We become like what we look at. The things which we gaze at and are fascinated by shape us, so that we gravitate towards them...
Posted by: DavidW

We become like what we look at. The things that we gaze at and are fascinated by shape us, so that we gravitate towards them; we learn how to spot them at a glance; we start to reflect them in our own thoughts and actions. It's often said that we are what we eat. Perhaps better to say we are what we feast our eyes upon. In the Bible this is a big theme. It's true of things that harm us - idols for instance (have a look at Psalm 135:18).

It's also true of Jesus himself. The greatest goal of the Christian life is to see the glory of Jesus. The biggest thing that Jesus prays for his followers is "I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory." (John 17:24). That's the best bit of eternal life: seeing Jesus in all his glory; what theologians have called 'the beatific vision'. When we see him like that we'll be totally transformed: "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2)

It's also the thing that changes us now - the more we see of the glory of Jesus, the more we reflect him. As Paul puts it: "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect (or contemplate) the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." Reflect or contemplate - the two are the same in the original language. Of course they are.

The best book I've read for a while is The Glory of Christ by John Owen. It was written when John Owen (probably Britain's greatest theologian) was right at the end of his life, having spent all his life getting to know Jesus and now standing on the brink of seeing him face to face. He lived a long time ago, which is why he says 'behold' such a lot. But what a great word it is:

"It is by beholding the glory of Christ that we are spiritually edified and built up in this world, for as we behold his glory, the life and power of faith grow stronger and stronger. It is by faith that we grow to love Christ. So if we desire strong faith and powerful love, which give us rest, peace and satisfaction, we must seek them by diligently beholding the glory of Christ by faith. In this duty I desire to live and to die. On Christ's glory I would fix all my thoughts and desires, and the more I see of the glory of Christ, the more the painted beauties of this world will wither in my eyes and I will be more crucified to this world."

What have you been beholding recently?

Here's a great song about the vision which awaits us: