There is nothing that has the ability to transform our lives as much as how we hear and what we behold. What we hear determines what we see and we become what we behold. Beholding truth makes us true.
“That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes; that which we have gazed upon, and our hands handled, concerning the word of life” (1 John 1:1)
Can you see how the tangible experience of God’s presence starts with what we hear. There is a natural progression from hearing to seeing to gazing to touching.
What we hear
The Word John speaks about is not the latest fashionable ‘revelation’, but rather that which was from the beginning. In Christ, God’s original thought was preserved since the beginning. The destiny of this Word was always to become flesh. This Word cannot be contained in books … not even sacred books. Paul said it this way: We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. (1 Cor 2:6-9 MSG)
Would you agree that the Word that was in the beginning, that was with God and that was God, was not a book but a person? The truths contained within the scriptures point towards The Truth, which is a person, not a book! In Jesus’ days there were many who highly revered the scriptures, yet completely missed its message. Jesus said to the religious scholars of His day: “You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want. (John 5:39,40 MSG) How often still do we hear messages, backed by many scriptural references, filled with formulas and principles yet oblivious to the person – Christ in you. He still desires to find expression, not only in a doctrine or a teaching, however eloquent they may be, but in a person – in you.
This Word is original not invented last week. This Word is eternal, not seasonal. Even before time as we know it, God made up His mind about us. “… He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world …” (Eph 1:4) Before we did anything to impress or disappoint Him, He knew us, chose us and uniquely identified us in Christ. Christ came to show us what God originally saw in us, that cause Him to take such interest in us.
How we hear
Jesus said: Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away. (Luke 8:18) There is a way of hearing that will enrich you greatly and there is a way of hearing that will rob you.
Prior to this statement Jesus told the parable of the sower to illustrate some of the different ways of hearing. He likens the Word of God to seed … seed that is received (heard) in different ways and consequently produces different levels of fruitfulness. I want to liken the progression of hearing, seeing, gazing and touching that I mentioned above to this parable of the sower.
As the sower goes out to sow, some seed falls along the way on a path – it produces no fruit. For me this speaks of casual, careless ‘hearing’. The path is not ready for nor receptive to the seed. I would say that this is a person that never really heard the message.
Then there is the seed that falls among the rocks. There is a bit of good soil there and so the seed does sprout, but because there is no depth it withers quickly. Often, in the excitement of hearing this gospel, the first response is: what shall I do; how do I apply it? People want to move directly from first hearing this good news to trying to change everything around them. However, it is vital to hear in such a way that what you hear starts changing what you see. Otherwise the excitement might be short lived because as soon as you ‘see’ a contradiction the whole experience withers. This person is at the hearing stage, but has not heard enough to start seeing.
In each of these illustrations there is a progression in the intensity of ‘hearing’ and a consequent progression in the fruit it produces. The next example is a person who hears and having some depth, they allow the word to sink in, to change the way they see. Because of this, the seed sprouts and begins to bear fruit. Yet they allow other seed, other words to have an equal place in their lives. This Word is not yet the ultimate word in their lives, it has not captured their exclusive attention yet. Consequently, the seed is not as fruitful as it could be.
“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” This is the person who hears and embraces what they hear. This is a way of hearing that captures the persons heart. Embrace this word until you find yourself inescapably embraced by it. The soil does not have to make the seed grow – the seed spouts and grows of its own accord. The soil simply needs to provide an environment for the seed to remain. Jesus once said: “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you will bear much fruit”. ‘Abide’ does not take much effort. It speaks more of rest that activity.
What we have seen and gazed upon
As we heed this word, as we give our ears, our attention, we’ll begin to see. “which we have seen with our eyes; that which we have gazed upon”. John uses two variations of the word ‘see‘. The first is ‘horao’.
Strongs define it as: Properly to stare at, that is, by implication to discern clearly; by extension to attend to.
The second word is ‘theaomai’ and it is a more intensive form of the first word, meaning: A prolonged form of a primary verb; to look closely at, that is, by implication to perceive.
Again the progression is evident. Look until you see beyond the obvious. Look beyond the surface and allow the true meaning of this word to captivate your attention. Continue to gaze ans soon you’ll find this word becoming a tangible reality.
There is no method, technique or process that has a greater ability to transform our lives than simply gazing into this mystery, seeing in it the face of our birth, allowing our attention to be captivated by it. Let me be clear. when I speak of being transformed, I do not mean becoming something that you are not. This transformation is a restoration to the original.
And all of us, as with unveiled face, continued to behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transformed into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another (2Cor3:18)
But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him—and in seeing him, become like him. (1 John 3:2-3)
Can you see in these how ‘transformation’ is linked to ‘beholding’? Once we start seeing the truth of God’s opinion of us and excitement fills our hearts, the first response should simply be one of adoration – lets see more; let’s look more deeply, let us gaze upon Him. Such adoration will awaken the appropriate response.
Doers of the word, not just hearers
“But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror; for he looks at himself, goes away, and right away forgets what kind of man he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who acts—this person will be blessed in what he does.”
The word ‘doer’ is so much richer than many translations bring across. It’s the same word from which we get ‘poet’.
a performer; specifically a “poet”: – doer, poet.
It speaks of inspired, passionate expression. When this word is declared as it should be, you’ll hear much more than ‘do’s and don’ts’, you’ll see the face your origin as in a mirror. The secret to accurate ‘doing’ of this word is in accurate ‘seeing’. It is the one who looks intently and continues to look, that finds inspired expression – expression birthed from what he sees.
With that in mind I enjoyed the following translation:
Look and continue to look,
the perfect, complete, and eternal freedom.
Listen; listen intensily;
listen in such a way that it bursts forth in inspired expression.
Allow what you hear to awaken the poet in you;
allow what you see to awaken the artist in you.
Then act; act in the full conviction of what you have seen and heard,
and you will will find delight and affirmation in your action.
James 1:25 (translated by Andre Rabe)
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