Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

How Good Do I See? February 29, 2012

Filed under: Vision — Janie Kellogg @ 5:22 am

As Christians, we often struggle to be what we think God wants us to be, but I don’t believe we have a being problem as much as we have a seeing problem. In my last blog post, I proposed the idea that God is more concerned over how good we see than how good we look. If that is true, then what do we need to see? Is it physical vision or spiritual vision that we are lacking? The answer is probably both, since the two are so intricately connected.

The old saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees” clearly describes my own condition. I am totally focused on the trees in my physical life as well as my spiritual life. On the other hand, God is looking at the forests of life and the world beyond. I believe He desires for us to look past our current problems, beliefs, and opinions in order to catch a view from where He sits. But to do so, we must first embrace the fact that there is much more than we currently see in the physical and spiritual realms.

In 2 Kings 6, we find the story of Elisha and his servant completely surrounded by their enemies. But Elisha saw something his servant didn’t see. Verse 17 says: “Then Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!’ The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.” (NLT) Whether it was enhanced physical or spiritual vision the Lord granted Elisha’s servant, who can say? But there are two important points to be made here: 1) Elisha had better vision than the frightened, young servant, and 2) what we are able to see directly affects our peace of mind.

Ever wonder what you would see if God answered an Elisha-kind-of-prayer for you? How might that be different from what you now see? One thing that would be different for me is the scope of things. Whenever I consider just how big the world is that God oversees, I am afraid there is a huge contrast between my small view and God’s panoramic view. If only we could see things from His perspective, perhaps we would not struggle so much to be Christlike, but rather we would understand the very eternal reasons to be like Him and think like Him. Seeing from God’s perspective could literally change who we are and how we live. It certainly did for the apostle Paul after his drastic eye surgery on the Damascus Road.

How do we begin to look for the bigger picture? Since we already see what we see and know what we know, maybe we should search out what others have to say. This old familiar saying might apply here:  “If you always think what you’ve always thought; you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Are we brave enough to ask God to expand our vision, and as a result, change our thinking? Can we sincerely pray the words to the popular worship song, Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord?

In the coming weeks we are going to examine some things of God that are not in clear sight and what hinders people from seeing them. Once we discover how to get a God-sized view of His world and the people in it, hopefully we will come away with an improved answer to the question: “How good do I see?” My prayer is that we will begin to see with the eyes of our heart as never before. ~Janie Kellogg

Advertisements
 

How Good Do I Look? February 20, 2012

Filed under: Vision — Janie Kellogg @ 2:28 pm

Let’s face it—we all care about how we look. Most people want to look professional, or successful, or important. Right now some folks are trying to look presidential. One TV commercial for men’s clothing says, “You’re going to like the way you look.” Many of us strive to look like we “fit in” and yet “stand out” all at the same time. Then there is the generational lingo that describes how a person looks, such as hip, groovy, neato, cool, bad, awesome, and wicked, to name a few. Every generation has coined their own word or phrase for those who fit the desired profile, leaving the rest of us in the dust. That certainly is the case for those words that mean the exact opposite, like “bad” actually means “very good.” Go figure. While how we look is an important aspect of our society, it may not be as important as we think. Here’s a comical story about that very thing.

“He is a fine horse,” the owner said to the man on the phone. “He is strong and well-trained, but He doesn’t look too good.”  The prospective buyer decided to go check out the horse for himself, fully expecting to find a good, but malnourished, animal. Upon examination of the horse, the buyer exclaimed, “Why didn’t you tell me this horse was blind?” The owner quickly defended himself, “I did. I told you that he doesn’t look too good.”

Some Christians, like the owner of the blind horse, have the verbs look and see a bit confused. Many of us focus on how we look as Christians, when in fact God is far more concerned about how we see. Jesus chided those who have their eyes closed, and blessed those with eyes that see. (Matthew 13:15~16) The more relevant question we need to ask ourselves then is not “How good do I look?” but rather, “How good do I see?”

The Bible teaches a creation of new life occurs in a believer when he/she accepts Christ as Savior. Oswald Chambers, author of the best-selling devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest, wrote “your body is the Bethlehem of God’s Son,” inferring that the Christchild is born in us at conversion. New believers are often called baby Christians, and that is exactly what they are. It is generally understood that it will take weeks, months, and years for the life of Christ to develop in the life of a new believer.

However, when a new Christian begins to look like other Christians outwardly, we assume he has grown up. We would probably even agree on what the characteristics of a grown-up Christian are:  regular Bible study, church attendance, giving a certain percent of income to the church, and getting along with the neighbors. We might also think that if the fruits of the Spirit or the gifts of the Spirit are visible in a believer’s life then he has arrived at a place of spiritual maturity.

It is interesting to point out that we use our measurements to make these judgments—the same standards we use to measure our own spirituality. Where did we get these standards? Most likely they are the traditions and teachings we grew up with. It is also interesting to point out that Jesus came down hard on the Pharisees for their traditions, which were apparently out of sync with God’s measuring stick. In truth, anyone not using God’s measurements might be those Jesus referred to as “blind leaders of the blind,” who all landed in the ditch. (Matthew 15:14) The apostle Paul gave us some good advice in this area: “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12)

My point is simply to raise the question as to whether or not we understand how to measure spiritual maturity, even in ourselves.  Did the Christchild grow up in the life of that new believer as the Heavenly Father intended? Is the Holy Spirit functioning in the hearts and lives of all believers as Jesus said He would? Do we mostly look spiritual, or are we really spiritual? Are we frustrated with our constant efforts to live the Christian life yet remain void of power to overcome our own besetting sins? Are we tired of making new commitments to do better, yet living as the same struggling individuals we’ve always been, all the while looking spiritual?  Do you ever wonder just where is the earth-shaking, life-changing power that was evident in the lives of the first Christians? I do.

I believe the key to finding these answers depends not on how good we look but on how good we see. And that will be the subject of another post—How Good Do I See?  ~ Janie Kellogg

All references are NKJV unless otherwise noted.