April 23, 2015
1 John 3:1-3
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
So much has been made over the years of the distinction between being and doing. You’ve heard it. We are human beings, they say, not human doings. We must learn to “be” before we “do.”
I’m going to be frank. I think this is a completely meaningless distinction. It falls into the category of “sounds good” but what in the world does it mean? I mean, can you articulate it for me?
O.K., so I won’t just criticize without offering an alternative. I believe the alternative is in today’s text. Rather than “being” and “doing,” I think life comes down to “beholding” and “becoming.” Allow me to develop the thought.
The first word of today’s text, “See,” isn’t actually “see.” The Greek word there has much more force. It means BEHOLD. To behold something or someone is far more than to see with the naked eye. It means to perceive something with the totality of one’s attention. It means to see past the surface appearance and into the very essence of reality. This word appears throughout Scripture in some very key places. It is often found on the lips of angelic beings. The word almost always signals the presence of God and points to impending divine activity or revelation.
I remember this song from the past freighting today’s opening verse in these words, “Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called the children of God.”
This is not a nice turn of phrase. It is not a platitude. It is not a nice idea or a concept or a hallmark card sentiment. By the supernatural strength of the Holy Spirit, John is calling us to BEHOLD this groundbreaking Gospel truth. This love of God our Father is an incomprehensible reality. It cannot even be revealed to us by flesh and blood. This kind of truth must be winged into the depths of our being by the Word of God and the Spirit of God.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul prays for this very thing to occur. Check this out:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19.
Paul prays for us to BEHOLD, because the outcome of true beholding is genuine becoming. We become like whom we behold. In this instance, “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Would you be willing to “dwell” in this text for the next several days. Even now, as an act of devotion, would you be willing to copy it down on paper with a pencil or pen? Linger with the words. Speak them aloud. Paul speaks of a profoundly supernatural activity here.
Closing with the end of today’s text: But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
Did you see the connection? Beholding leads to becoming: “We shall be like him.” We cannot “do” our way into “being” like him. Nor can we “be” our way into being like him. We can behold him and participate in the Holy Spirit’s work of making us become like him.
One more for the road today: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces behold the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image from one degree of glory to the next, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18.
Pray for the Spirit to me a “behold-er” today and I will pray the same for you. This life we seek does not come from accelerated activity. It is the fruit of attentive abandonment to Jesus.
J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the Daily Text delivered to your inbox fresh every morning. Subscribe HERE.