But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness… ~ Matthew 6:33
Abide in Me… ~ John 15:4
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. ~ Colossians 3:2
…fixing our eyes on Jesus… ~ Hebrews 12:2
What Does It Mean to Behold?
Merriam-Webster defines behold as: 1) to perceive through sight or apprehension, or see; and 2) to gaze upon, or observe. Both imply intently looking at something, not just a glimpse or a glance. To behold something, one has to focus on it – apprehend it. This is difficult to do with just a glance, yes?
So, when I, or any of the other writers on this blog, use the term “behold the Lord”, we mean to gaze upon the Lord, to look intently at Him, to apprehend Him. To see Christ in something, as Tim did with the movie Groundhog Day, is to behold the Lord in it. In other words, in watching that movie, Tim apprehended Christ in it. After glimpsing Christ in a scene or scenes, he then went on to gaze upon Christ in that scene or scenes. And through that, he perceived a reality of Christ. The key was not that Tim looked more intently at the movie itself, but at Christ through the movie. The more he saw, or apprehended, of Christ, the more he saw Christ in the movie. In essence, Christ became the filter through which Tim watched the movie. Does that make sense?
Quiet Time/Spending Time with the Lord
That’s just one example of beholding the Lord. I’m sure you’ve beheld the Lord, though you probably didn’t identify it as such. I used to have “a quiet time with the Lord.” What was that? A time where I spent a particular amount of time (5 minutes, usually – 30-60 minutes, if I was really spiritual) gazing upon the Lord – beholding Him. So, I used to say that I spent time with the Lord.
“Beholding the Lord” ≈ (can equal) “spending time with the Lord”.
However, let’s be clear: “spending time with the Lord” ≠ (does not always equal) “beholding the Lord”.
I used to say that I spent time with the Lord, but none of that time was spent actually beholding Him. I spent that time giving Him my laundry list of prayer requests, telling Him my hopes and dreams, and keeping my (spiritual) eyes pointed down on earthly things. I did all the talking; I would only ask for a certain outcome to a certain situation. I could say that I was spending time with the Lord, but it was not the same as beholding Him.
Seeking the Lord/Pursuing the Lord
Other terms I’ve used, and still use, are seeking the Lord and Pursuing the Lord. To me, these are a little more accurate to beholding the Lord, because they imply that Christ is the object of the seeking or pursuing. So, we say things like, “Let’s pursue the Lord in Colossians.” What does that mean? It means that we will behold the Lord, pursue the Lord, look intently on the Lord in Colossians. Similar to seeing Christ in movies, we catch a glimpse of Him in the scriptures, then we gaze upon Him. The more we see, apprehend or understand of Christ in a scripture, the more of Christ we will see in the scriptures. Basically, Christ becomes the filter through which we read the scriptures – same as when He became the filter through which we watched the movie.
Again, however, seeking or pursuing the Lord are not always synonymous with beholding the Lord. I used the seek the Lord for a certain answer to a certain problem. I wasn’t seeking Him just to see Him, I was looking for some kind of personal gain.
A brother recently explained it as such: Seeking His face vs. seeking His hand. I would seek His hand, i.e. the blessings I could get from Him, as opposed to seeking His face. To seek His face is to see Him. To seek His hand is to seek personal gain from Him. To behold is to seek His face; it is not to seek personal gain.
So, when I say behold the Lord, this is what I mean: to seek His face, to see more of Him in everything, to gaze upon my Lord and let the things of earth fade away.
5 Ways I Behold the Lord
Having established what it means to behold the Lord, let us also establish that there are a plethora of ways in which to do so. What follows are five of my currently favorite ways in which I practice gazing upon Jesus.
In no particular order:
One of our family’s favorites is Doctor Who. I love this show. It’s cheeky, campy, all out ridiculous adventure, and it’s laced with Christ. This past season was a particular favorite as it had some not-so-subtle nods to laying down one’s life, i.e. the Cross. Oh, it’s some good stuff. However, Doctor Who isn’t the only show in which we see Christ, it’s just one of our favs. So, I enjoy beholding the Lord, apprehending Christ, in movies and tv shows.
Walking in the Cool of the Day:
Or, in the winter months, walking in the warm of the day. Once in a blue moon, I’ll do this on my own, but most of the time, I walk with Bridget. We hold hands and we talk. Sometimes, we don’t talk, and we just breathe Him in. Sometimes, we observe our surroundings and are reminded how Christ is our environment, our atmosphere. We observe the trees swaying in the breeze and are reminded how the Holy Spirit, the indwelling life of Christ, animates and moves through us. We discuss what we’re seeing of Christ in our personal times with Him, and we are edified and built up from it. This is one of my most favorite ways to behold the Lord.
Yes, this one is similar to movies/tv shows. But it’s in music, natch. A song I currently love is “Shut up and Dance” by Walk the Moon. Even the group’s name is a picture of Christ to me (see Tim’s post, Seeing Christ in the Heavens). (Disclaimer: this song is all I know about the group and their music. I beheld Christ in this song.) The woman is both a picture of Christ and the Bride. She is our destiny. We make our excuses (you’re holding back), but Christ through the Bride says, “Shut up and dance with Me!” I also love how, in the video, he tries to dance on his own, but it’s not until he joins the Bride (church) that he can really dance – how he’s transformed by Her. I also love the 80’s vibe in the video. Here’s the video:
Calling on His Name:
This is my most regular practice of all these. It is simply what it sounds like: calling on His name. Ok, maybe not exactly what it sounds like. I don’t call out to Him like, “Jesus! Where are you?!” But it’s quietly, lovingly, gently saying His name: Jesus. Sometimes, I whisper it. Sometimes, I say it a little louder. Sometimes, I add Lord or another adjective, e.g. sweet, etc. I’ll do this when I first awake in the morning; I’ll do it as I lay in bed going to sleep at night. I’ll do this while I drive. I’ll do this as I type a blog post. Basically, I’m loving on Jesus with His name. Each time I say it, my heart, my mind, my spiritual eyes are set on Him. It’s probably the most practical way I have of reminding me of His presence. He lives in me and I in Him. By calling on His name, Jesus, I remember my heavenly position: in Him.
Smoking a Pipe:
This is the newest way in which I behold the Lord, and that’s because I only picked up the practice a couple of years ago. I could expound on any one of these five ways for days, but this one particularly. Right now, it has a special place in my heart. I doubt that that will always be the case, but the Lord has been extremely gracious through it in this season. In Florida, the first expression of the Lord of which we were a part, there turned out to be a group of brothers who smoked a pipe. I quickly got two of my good buddies in on it, and there could be 3-7 of us lunting* at any given tabagie**. Seeing the Lord together in this time has been rich and precious. And not just from the fellowship and Christ-centered conversation, but from observing the Lord in the actual practice of smoking the pipe. Examples: You have to light it – He is the Light, and the darkness has not overcome it; our God is a consuming fire. While you don’t actually inhale pipe smoke, you breathe it in and out – the same as you breathe in Christ then breathe Him out again. Smoking a pipe takes patience and constant work – our walk with the Lord takes patience and work on our part, e.g. beholding Him, abiding in Him.
These are not the only ways one can behold the Lord, nor are they the only ways that I behold the Lord. If you read these again, you’ll notice how they can all be done individually, but they are more fun, precious, and I’d even say potent, when done in community. I watch the movies and tv shows with my family and with other saints. I walk with my wife. I listen to music with my family and with other saints. I’ll call on the Lord’s name with my wife around the house or with other saints in a meeting. And while I’ll smoke by myself, I much prefer lunting with another brother or brothers.
So, those are some of my favorite ways to behold the Lord. What are some of yours?
*to smoke a pipe; to walk whilst smoking a pipe
**a group of smokers who meet in a club fashion