By Grant Walker
To behold is to see or perceive something or someone with intelligence or by experience. A desire to behold God is a longing that we all have because not only do we have a desire to know and be known, but we love to behold and gaze at beautiful, amazing, and great things. Don’t you have a desire to be filled with awe? To have your breath taken away? To sit at the ocean and ponder its immensity? To look into the night sky and to contemplate the vastness of the universe?
It is a beautiful gift that humanity has—this built in desire to behold greatness. Unfortunately, this desire to behold greatness is frequently misdirected to lesser things. We behold great musicians, actors, athletes, and communicators. A God-given desire to behold our great God has been temporarily satisfied and distracted by lesser things to behold. Our phones, tablets, and our entertainment industry has been successful at putting anything and everything in front of our faces except… the one thing we were meant to behold.
Church, before you start to get out your soap boxes out to stand on and point at everyone else, I’m mainly talking to you! When we gather together, who are we mainly beholding? I would challenge you that many times we are beholding ourselves more than we are beholding God. A concerning trend in the church is that, in an attempt to be practical and relevant, we have stopped beholding the One we were created to behold.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think practical sermons are necessary. I think application is important. But let us not abandon the primary thing for these secondary issues. We are primarily beholders and worshippers.
Let us not, as churches, give people what they want, abandoning what they need.
We need God. The city needs God. The church needs God. The self righteous religious person needs God. The prodigal needs God. Those who are hurting need God. The comfortable need God. My prayer is that the Church would give them God.
This is what has fueled my call to ministry. It is my prayer that, by the grace of God, our new local
church would not just “tickle ears”, but would “feed sheep” by putting God and His word on display. Lasting transformation and refreshment will not come from beholding a great preacher or great musicians. No, it will only come by beholding a great God. To grow in a knowledge of Him. To experience Him. To see Him as He truly is.
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
The trend to be practical and relevant has sprung up to meet people’s desire for transformation. Most of us desire change and want to become the best possible version of ourselves. But our error is thinking that beholding ourselves will cause this transformation. Many will tell you to “take care of yourself,” have some “me time,” and to think about yourself more.
I would argue this is a miserable way to live. And it’s why so many lack hope, have lost purpose, and have questioned identity. It’s not because they haven’t thought about themselves enough. It’s because they have been beholding themselves too much—not beholding God enough. One glimpse of God would be more valuable and transformative than a library of self help books.
“All vain-glory, ambition, ignorance, and pride, would be done away by one view of Christ in his glory.”
The Gospel frees us from beholding ourselves and allows us to start beholding God. The gospel is the good news that God saves sinners. This salvation was accomplished through Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection, and it is received by grace through faith.
As followers of Jesus, we are saved to stop beholding ourselves and start beholding God. So when we gather corporately, we remind ourselves to stop beholding and worshipping ourselves and to start beholding and worshipping God. That is what brings lasting refreshment, transformation, and life to a worship gathering and to a church.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.