When play is done for the day, toilet parade and garden inspection over and she feels mellow and sleepy, Molly loves to lie on my lap with her head on my tummy and gaze into my face with complete adoration in her soft brown eyes. I always respond with words like, “You are so beautiful. You are so sweet. You are my treasure. You are precious to me. I love you, my little one…”
A few weeks ago, I was lying awake during the night when two Scriptures invaded my mind:
“Without holiness, no one will see the Lord”, and “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
I pondered these words for a while, wondering what the Holy Spirit wanted to say to me. I understand that to “see” God is not about literal seeing, nor is it about seeing God in the afterlife. What was the Lord saying to me?
David had a heart after God and, when he heard the voice of the Lord calling him to seek His face, he eagerly responded with the words, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” (Psalm 27:8 – NIV). Since we cannot literally see God’s face, what did David mean? To see the face of God is to contemplate His greatness and His attributes, but even more than that, to respond to who He is by acting in ways that resemble Him.
God’s character can be summed up in one word – generosity. God is outrageously generous in who He is and in everything He does. “Righteousness” and “generosity” are often used interchangeably in the Scriptures. God’s righteousness is expressed in lavish generosity and wants us to treat others in the same way as He treats us.
In Hebrew thought, generosity is a duty demanded of us, but our generosity towards others should never out of a heart of benevolence towards those who are less fortunate than we are. It should be our response of gratitude to God’s overflowing generosity towards us.
However, to “see” God goes even further than that. The Hebrews had a word for the kind of generosity that goes beyond our duty – zikkut. It means doing more than is expected of us – simply because of who we are – God’s children who are made in His image and have His nature. To see God implies acting out of the very nature of God, i.e., experiencing the depth of His compassionate heart towards those in need.
Then another thought came to me as I pondered this “message” from the Lord. What about the Scripture that says:
“So all of us, with faces unveiled, see as in a mirror the glory of the Lord; and we are being changed into His very image, from one degree of glory to the next, by ADONAI the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18 – COMPLETE JEWISH BIBLE)
I have chosen this translation because it accurately reflects the words of the original Greek text.
Slowly, the meaning of these words began to dawn on me. The Holy Spirit is not calling us to gaze at (or contemplate) Jesus in this text, but to gaze at His image in us. When we look into a mirror, we see our own reflection. So, too, as we gaze into the mirror of God’s word, we see the image of Jesus reflecting back at us. As I look into the face of my dog, I see something beautiful and precious in her that causes me to speak the words of love and blessing.
So, too, as I gaze at the image of Jesus in me – “Christ in me, the hope of glory”, I hear the words of Jesus expressing to me all that I am to Him. In Solomon’s love song to his bride, which mirrors the song of Jesus to His heavenly bride, he says to her:
“Everything about you is beautiful, my love: you are without a flaw.” (Song of Solomon 4:7 – COMPLETE JEWISH BIBLE)
As I speak my words of love to Molly, although she is only an animal, the more beautiful and precious she becomes to me.
So, too, I become what I look at. No longer do I see myself as weak, frail and flawed but as the very image of Jesus who, by His Spirit, is transforming me, one day at a time, into that image.