Learning to Hear and See through the Ears and Eyes of Jesus
A Reflection on Psalm 119:9-16 (NRSV)
9 How can young people keep their way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
do not let me stray from your commandments.
11 I treasure your word in my heart,
so that I may not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes.
13 With my lips I declare
all the ordinances of your mouth.
14 I delight in the way of your decrees
as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts,
and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
This past Sunday in my sermon I offered a picture of the five movements in the great arc of the biblical drama. You can click here to listen to the podcast. As a quick recap here are those five movements.
- God creates human beings in God’s own image; beloved children of God in constant communion with God. This constant communion is a way of describing worship, a conversation with God in which each party gives and receives.
- Idols, false gods lure our attention away from God. We chase after things and desires instead of focusing on God. In other words, we break our relationship with God. This is the biblical definition of sin.
- God does not let sin have the final word. God will not let us walk away and chooses to join us in the form of a human being. Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, Immanuel – God with Us, is God’s answer to sin.
- Jesus creates the Church, the body of Christ to form and shape us back into relationship with God. It is the church’s calling to learn to love God with all our being, and our neighbors’ in the same way. The Church, filled and inspired by the Holy Spirit, is tasked with loving humanity and all of creation back into right relationship with God.
- The promise, the goal the church: striving to achieve with God and for God the Reign of God on earth as in Heaven; a new constant communion, an eternal form of worship.
We are currently offering a worship series based upon the book by Adam Hamilton called The Walk. Most of our Sunday School classes are also studying the book at 10:00am. (If you do not already attend a class, please join us in Hines Hall at 10:00!) The purpose of The Walk is to explore movement 4 in the great biblical story. What is the purpose of the church? What are the essential practices that we as members are called to perform? Adam proposes that there are five practices that are the foundation of the Church; worship and prayer, study, giving, serving, and witnessing. This week in the Gathering services we will discuss the second practice.
But no one likes the word “study!” Good grief Adam, could you have chosen a word with more negative conations to describe the most beautiful act between people and God? Sheesh! Study…
Learning from Jesus, Listening to the Holy Spirit, Sitting at the feet of our Rabi, those are much better descriptions of our second responsibility as members of Christ’s church. The beautiful aspect of this practice is that as we learn to listen, we are re-formed or transformed into the very image of Christ. In the Methodist church we call this process sanctification (the process of becoming holy), the apostle Paul calls is “Christ living in us,” (Galatians 2:19,20). The selection of Psalm 119 above offers us perspective on how we can attend to the living Word of God.
Rev. Sara Bainbridge (a member of our congregation), says that this process is learning to see as Christ see. When we look at every moment through the eyes of Jesus, then the Holy Spirit is constantly available to teach us. It is in this perspective that every book we read can become a portal to the Spirit. Any form of art can be the voice of God to us, just as all of creation can be. I especially like reading biographies and auto biographies of people who have dedicated their lives to following Jesus. The Holy Spirit speaks to me powerfully through their testimonies. But there is no substitute for reading the Bible if we want to learn about Jesus.
There are mentions of Jesus in a few extra-biblical books from about the time he was living, but the Gospels are our main teachers when it comes to listening to how Jesus would have us follow him. The remainder of the New Testament is important as well, but these letters are different than the Gospels. The letters of the New Testament are pictures of how the growing church was trying to listen to and follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance in bearing the image of Christ to the world. The Gospels tell us who Jesus is and how he lived.
And the Gospels are beautifully written works of art that are not only engaging to read, but potentially life transforming! How about making a commitment to read the Gospels between now and Easter? Keep a journal and take notes about what you like, what you will try to do, what you don’t understand, what challenges you, and pray that the Holy Spirit teaches you as you sit at the feet of Jesus.
As you learn to see with the eyes of Christ, may the Holy Spirit guide you and fill you with God’s peace!