It is not very often today that we hear people talking about having visions of God . . . at least not without having their sanity questioned! Such talk, however, used to be a normal part of the Church’s vocabulary. The Christian tradition speaks of the “beatific vision” as seeing and experiencing the glory and light of God. While it is common for Christians to anticipate such a vision in heaven (I Cor. 13:12), many have grasped such an image this side of glory.
So what does it take to see God today? Of course, we will never see him perfectly for he is ultimately incomprehensible (I Tim. 6:16). But he does give glimpses to those who yearn to see him (Eph. 1:18-19). However, in a seemingly contradictory way, vision of God is inextricably linked to vision of ourselves. Specifically, how desperate we perceive ourselves to be of God’s grace.
As humans, we are hard-wired to see ourselves in the best possible light even if we know the image is positively exaggerated. People don’t usually see themselves as they truly are until desperate situations leave them with no other choice. Whether it is with physical health, social relationships, or emotional well-being positive change will not occur until we finally become honest about our situation as it actually exists.
As with all areas of our life, I think we hesitate to be brutally honest because we fear what we might find. And if we find what we fear then the truth makes us accountable for our actions. So too with our faith, we learn to look past the thousand times each day we’ve intentionally chosen to act or think selfishly, pridefully, or enviously when we’ve known to do better. We know that loving God is the ultimate aim of our life yet, every time, instead we chose to love ourselves. It is a painful truth to swallow. We are not what we should be . . . not even close. What are we going to do?
This painful realization is actually the beginning of our transformation. For the Christian, honesty’s dagger does what any dagger does. It brings us to our knees in desperation. This is just the place we need to be if we want to see God. For in this posture of desperate surrender we discover new strength, new hope, new peace and, yes, new vision.
Therefore, our ongoing challenge is to resist the temptation to see ourselves by any other light than honesty provides. And when we do, each time we’ll discover afresh that as we see ourselves honestly, we will see God more accurately. Next week we talk about the impact such vision will have upon our life.
What Do You Think?
Are you desperate to see God? What would it cost you to be brutally honest about your faith?
♦ To see the video and poem this post is based on, click here.