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Awakening Your Behold Muscle

Laura (my wife) watches a baby several days a week, and this morning before I left for work I looked into the face of the newborn and saw what I can only describe as, he “beheld” me. He looked at my face as though he had never seen a face before. (He was probably trying to figure out what the gray in my beard was all about.)

His, of course, was an innocent look. It was a look of curiosity and wonder. And it reminded me of how I used to look at people, nature, and beauty. Somewhere along life’s way, I have forgotten how to behold.

To behold means to stop what you’re doing and fix your complete attention upon something. When you behold, you contemplate and consider. It’s not the gaze of judgment but grace. To behold is to see with eyes of wonder.

The Bible teaches us to behold God’s creation and creatures (Proverbs 24:31). We behold the workings of our hearts before God (Proverbs 24:12). We behold God’s providence and hand in history (Psalm 46:8), his provisions in ordinary life (Ecclesiastes 5:18), his presence in our day-to-day (Psalm 33:18), and the promise of his ongoing help (Psalm 54:4).

When we behold in this way, we pause in the busyness in life. We breathe. We wonder. And those who once were blurry to us before, due to how ordinary they seemed, now come into focus among the mattering things.

Zack Eswine writes that “to behold God in all things daily changes the way we learn and alters what we look at” (The Imperfect Pastor, 155). When we behold we say by grace, “Now the ears of my ears are awake. Now the eyes of my eyes are opened” (E. E. Cummings, “Walking on Water”).

The next time you see a sunset, stop what you’re doing and fix your complete attention on the beauty of the moment. When you sip a nicely brewed cup of coffee, pause for your senses to awaken and behold. Look and listen in such a way that helps you rediscover the “unapparent presence of God” (Barnes, The Pastor as Minor Poet, 22).

When you strengthen the muscle of beholding, you will be more apt not to miss what is most important—“The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).

May God grant you ears awakened to his still, small voice and eyes opened to his beauty.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

All I Did Was Listen

On a recent flight back to Indianapolis, I sat next to a woman who was eager to share her woes and worries. She was nice in her tone but grumbly in her content. After she droned on for about a half hour, she said, “If I lived in Indianapolis, I’d come to hear you preach, because, unlike most preachers, you really seem to care.”

After we de-planed, I thought to myself, Why did she say I seemed to care? All I did was listen. Indeed. All I did was listen. I didn’t try to correct her, judge her, or preach to her. I just listened with a prayerful heart. And although I disagreed with her assessment of “most preachers,” I was saddened to think her reaction towards Christians in general and preachers in particular was less than stellar.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people’s first reaction to Christians was based on how much we care and not how much we condemn? Francis Schaeffer once wrote that the final apologetic Jesus gives is how Christians love one another (The Mark of the Christian, 29).

In Acts 16 Luke tells the stories of three people who came to faith in Christ in Philippi: Lydia, a slave girl, and a jailer. Undoubtedly there were others who became Christ followers through Paul’s ministry in Macedonia, but Luke specifically records the conversions of a woman, a slave, and a Gentile.

Why? Well, according to the Siddur, a first-century prayer book, Jewish men would pray each morning thanking God they were not a woman, a slave, or a Gentile. Luke specifically addresses this by showing that the only place in society where a woman, a slave and a Gentile jailer were accepted and could sit together in love and fellowship was in the Jesus community.

The Roman emperor Julian, who was an atrocious persecutor of the church in the second century, once wrote that he couldn’t stop the church from growing no matter how many he jailed or killed because “these infernal Galileans feed our poor in addition to their own” (Arnold, The Early Christians: In Their Own Words, 14).

The early church was known for caring for one another—male, female, slave, free, Gentile, or Jew—and they were known for caring for their community. In fact, historian Eberhard Arnold notes that what astounded outside observers most was the reduction in poverty in communities where Christians gathered, for “Christians spent more money in the streets than the followers of other religions spent in their temples” (ibid., 16).

If you are a follower of Jesus, what are you known for? What is your church known for? I ask again, wouldn’t it be wonderful if people’s first reaction to Christians was based on how much we care and not how much we condemn? Maybe then, like the woman I encountered on the plane, more people would come to hear us preach and, more importantly, come to Christ.

“Love on display is our most convincing apologetic” (Greear, Gaining by Losing, 128).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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