You will become what you behold

You become what you behold

 

In ‘The Great Stone Face‘ by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the main character (Ernest) spends his life studying the face embossed on the mountain range where he lived. An Indian prophecy foretold of a child. This child would be come the greatest and noblest personage of his time and, in manhood, bear the same face as that of the stone. Ernest spent his life studying the stone face and looking for the man to appear. The years passed and no such man appeared, **SPOILER ALERT** until one day when Ernest took his place as a leader in the community himself. Without giving the story away, Ernest’s face had taken on the likeness of the face he studied his entire life.

You will become what you behold.

Matthew 17: 1-5

And after six days, Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you with, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a white cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

As if everything Peter, James and John had seen and experienced leading up to this point were not enough, Jesus transfiguring before their eyes must have disintegrated any doubt they had about who Jesus was. ¬†These guys all knew Moses and Elijah from their own “Sunday school” days. Moses was the guy who represented the law of God. When he returned from receiving the famous stone tablets with God’s top ten list (the ten commandments), his face literally reflected the glory of God. Elijah accepted a duel against followers of the ¬†Phoenician god Baal. This was a battle of the altars. The Phoenicians built their altar and Elijah built his. The winner would be the one whose god lit their altar on fire without human interference first. Elijah took it a step further and doused the altar he built with water. Both sides started praying and (after some friendly jabs at Baal’s absence), God ignited Elijah’s altar with fire from the sky, incinerating the altar as well as the rocks near it. Elijah represented the prophets of God by proclaiming the glory of God. Finally, Jesus, the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, now revealed the glory of God through his transfiguration.

So how should we respond? Our first response is seeing His worth. Second, listen to His Word. Third, life for His renown. Fourth, long for His return.

Today’s drawing takes a fantastical kind of Alice in Wonderland spin. A figure stands before a mirror. The reflection is faceless. As the figure reaches through the glass, the image they before them reaches back out. The foreshadowing of their shared gesture is they are about to become one entity. The figure is becoming the embodiment of their primary focus. The reflected figure is faceless because the image is a fill-in-the-blank statement. We all worship something. The face of our worship will vary drastically.

What face is in your mirror? Is it what you want it to be?

He Gives Sight to the Blind

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We’re a little over half way through our year long study of the book of Matthew! Today we look at Matthew 16:1-28. Jesus is addressing three main groups within religious circles in this passage; Pharisees, Sadducees, and disciples. The traits these groups share are eerily similar to modern society, tell me if you see the correlation!
Pharisees are define themselves with self-righteousness. These are the guys who hold to strict legalism and create new laws to bend the old ones to their liking. Modern Pharisees vomit up barrage of condemnation followed up with a chorus of “Jesus Loves Me”, calling it evangelism.
Sadducees swing to the opposite extreme. Self-indulgence is the defining characteristic of this group. While Pharisees create new laws and follow them strictly, Sadducees “‘re-interpret” the old ones so they fit popular lifestyle trends. If it’s fun, if it feels good, it must be OK with God. After all, God’s number one job is ensuring our individual happiness. Sound familiar? Modern Sadducees turn Grace into grease. “Tolerance” is a popular buzz word for these guys. Their flaw is taking just my toleration to such an extreme that NOTHING is sin. If nothing is sin, everything is God. Our understanding of God depends on whatever shakes our coconut tree that particular day! The Bible is obsolete to a Sadducee.

While their dogmas are in direct opposition, Pharisees and Sadducees share a common trait at their fundamental core. Neither of the philosophies would survive without narcissism. Our physical eyes are designed to communicate one area of focus to our minds at a time. The same is true for our mind’s eye. Focusing on ourselves eliminates the ability to focus on anything else. Selfishness blinds us from the gospel. The disciples combat the selfish tendencies of human nature, which sets them apart from any other religious sect.

The mark of a disciple is complete self-denial. People who live as disciples walk with all eyes open. They value other’s lives and well being over their own and live having been freed from fear of death. For the disciple, death is not the end, it is the start of a new chapter of life. A community of Jesus disciples are obvious by their intimate knowledge of and relationship with Jesus. They don’t just know the Christianese lingo, they live it out in a way that you can see them coming. The legalists’ and grace greasers’ knees tremble when real disciples come into town. Why would anyone fear disciples? Communities of disciples share Jesus confidently. We don’t require political angles or scare tactics to teach the gospel, we simply live it out and attract people by our example. Finally, communities of disciples follow Jesus sacrificially. We give ourselves in service and share all that we own to an extreme that confuses the world. Through our giving we are blessed with resources that allow us to give more; this really blows the cynics’ minds!

Jesus gives sight to the blind. Not by changing our eyes, but by taking off our blindfolds.