Monday, December 19, 2016

Eyes Of God

When I was a child, my parents came home from having dinner with a very famous television pastor. He was well-known in the Word of Faith (health, wealth and prosperity gospel). She spoke of him in terms of his "piercingly blue eyes" and how "God must have such penetrating eyes." Listening to her, but saying nothing, I did not think her description rang true. Instead, I imaged God's eyes to be more like a dog's. Now, before anyone gets upset with my analogy, I will explain why. A dog's eyes are filled with loving expectation, an awaiting for us to notice him or her there. Is that not the eyes of the father awaiting his prodigal son? Expectant eyes searching the horizon for the figure of his youngest child returning? And when he saw him a far off, he ran to his son, embraced and kissed him.

This also makes me think of the heartbreaking scene of God calling out to Adam and Eve in the garden, "Where are you?" knowing that they now feared His fellowship, which was the very reason He created them. It reveals how God's ardor for us is greater than His wrath.  As the prophet Jeremiah wrote, "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail" (Lamentations 3:22).

How we see God reflects us more than it does Him. How He sees us is unchanging. "For God so loved the world . . ."

This is a change from how others saw their gods. The Roman philosopher Cicero wrote, "The gods attend to great matters; they neglect small ones." In contrast to this is Yahweh. His eyes are on the great and, especially, the small things because nothing and no one is insignificant to Him.

Our first perceptions of God come to us through our parents. If we have a strict authoritarian parent, we may very well view God through that lens. If we have a parent who is distant, then our idea of God may be an existential one of distance or absence. If a parent is judgmental or the child has to earn their parent's love and affection, then they may feel that they have to earn God's love through behavior and works.

In a poll done by Baylor University years ago, they did a study on how Americans perceive God. The found that 90% of Americans did believe in some form of higher power and only 5% classified themselves as atheists. How did Americans view God?

28% saw God as an authoritarian figure. Either you please God or get punished.

22% saw God as benevolent.

21% saw God as critical (keeping a checklist of the good and bad someone does like some spiritual Santa so that He can tally them up to decide who does and doesn't get into heaven).

24% saw God as distant and removed from humanity and what happens in the world.

These statistics are important because, as A. W. Tozer wrote, "What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."

How we see or perceive God will impact how we deal or don't deal with our Creator. If we are motivated by fear, we, like Adam and Eve, may long only to hide from the God who seeks out our company. If we think we cannot measure up, that we are driven to perform to earn God's favor then we will be weighed down under the burden of our work and toil in the hopes of getting approval and will miss out on the joy and love that true communion with God really offers us.

Sin is what keeps us from being who God created us to be and be in relationship to God. To see God as anything other than as the loving Abba (Papa) that Christ shows us, is to see not our Creator but a false idol of our own making. If we are not deeply aware that we are beloved of God, that He loves us despite ourselves sometimes, then we have set up on our god in place of the one, true God. If we see God as harsh, or distant, or a cruel taskmaster then we are serving our own illusion that is radically different from Romans 5:8 that reminds us that while we were yet still sinners God showed His love for us through the death of His son.  This is repeated again and again throughout the New Testament (Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 2:4-5, 1 John 4:9-11).

If we see God as a God of love and we see ourselves as His beloved sons and daughters then we will see others through the lens of that love and we will embrace them.  Meister Eckhart wrote, "The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God's eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one loving." Why? Because when we know the love and grace of God through His son Jesus, then we see the world as God sees it and not as we would in the flesh because we are filled with His Holy Spirit. And with that Spirit we walk in the fruits of the Spirit that are reflections of our Heavenly Father.

Do we see God as infinitely loving? Infinitely compassionate? Infinitely merciful? Infinitely tender?

When we truly do, we will be astonished by how we not only perceive Him, but ourselves and others. We will move out of being people who need to defend and justify ourselves to people who simply love as Christ has loved, as God loves. We will find ourselves rooted not in our own insecurities, failures, flaws, wounds and pains. Instead, we will see that both sorrow and joy are filled with His presence and that, no matter what our circumstances, we have eternal hope in a God who loves us more than Himself because He gave completely of Himself. When we see God as God sees us, we will move through this world in a Christ-like manner of loving compassionately, freely, intensely and with great abandon.

How do you see the eyes of God?

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