The Business of Seeing, The Work of Asking

For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 
But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
Hebrews 5:13-14

When God raised us from death in sin to life in Christ, He gave us new eyes (Matt. 13:16-17). But then, we are supposed to go about the business of seeing.

The Eye by Max Hobbs

The story of our Saviour’s divine yet human life is a window into this lesson. At the exact moment of the incarnation, we see a picture of our salvation in the physical body of Mary, strengthened with power through God’s Spirit in her inner being, so that Christ might dwell in all our hearts through faith, that we might see with new eyes (Eph 3:17, Luke 1:26-35). Throughout His ministry, Jesus healed the blind to reveal the spiritual reality of new eyes we receive when He calls us by His name (John 9).

But what happens after conversion? Here again, the human life of Christ is our example. In fact, one thing we seem to forget about the life of Jesus is that though Jesus never sinned, He had to be equipped for ministry. Luke 2:40 tells us of His spiritual growth to maturity.

The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

After Christ enters our hearts by grace through faith, then, the business of seeing means putting our new eyes to work. We who reign with Christ in the heavenly places now have the power to observe what God is saying about Himself in His Word so that we can respond in worship and love for God and others (1 Cor. 13).

Just like in marriage, there can be no real depth of intimacy or joy without right relationship. So the business of seeing, the work of committing ourselves to God and to His Kingdom are ultimately acts of vulnerability. We are acknowledging our need of God for the whole of our spiritual journey through this world. We are asking to be filled to overflowing with Jesus Christ Himself (John 1:1). We are wanting to know Him so we can be nearer to Him. So then, following our example Jesus, the business of seeing is, first, the work of asking, by means of prayer and study of His Word (Luke 5:16).

Yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:3-5

There are some who emphasize prayer over the committed reading of God’s Word. Those who emphasize the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) at the expense of the work of Jesus Christ (the Cross). The idea is that a mature faith must be powerfully experiential, not cognitively constructed.

But what does God, who gave me His Own Body and Blood, whose perfect work has saved me from death, whose righteousness has been already given to me, ask of me in response but everything I have and everything I am (Romans 12:1)?

There is no sacred-secular split in this regard. There is no body-spirit divide. God made us in His own image, gave us new eyes to see, new ears to hear, and new minds to think (1 Cor. 2:16)! The Holy Spirit who gave us life works through these transformed God-given abilities. This means that the Word of Christ dwells in us more richly when we apply all of them to our reading, in prayer and humility (James 1:5).

Remember the life of Jesus here. This work of asking, this business of seeing, are our means not to salvation but to spiritual maturity (Hebrews 5:14) and to loving service of our neighbour (1 Peter 4:10, Acts 20:35). As we keep our eyes fixed on the object of our faith, as revealed in His Word, so we more closely resemble His likeness, His holiness.

L’Arlésienne: Madame Joseph-Michel Ginoux (Marie Julien, 1848–1911), Van Gogh

But there’s no denying it. Asking and seeing are hard work because of the sinful world we live in. All sorts of obstacles appear.

“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there,
    and backward, but I do not perceive him;
on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him;
    he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.
Job 23:8-9

In all such times, unlike my perfect Saviour, I wrestle with insecurity, ignorance, laziness, short attention span, impatience. In all such times, I wrestle with this world. I wrestle with myself. I wrestle with God Himself.

10 But he knows the way that I take;
    when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
11 My foot has held fast to his steps;
    I have kept his way and have not turned aside.
Job 23:8-11

The business of seeing through the work of asking will not lift us to the heights of heaven. We who acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour have already been saved by His work alone. He has already given us eyes to see.

But now, we get on with the business of seeing. We follow in the footsteps of Jesus in His youth, sitting among the Temple’s teachers, growing in wisdom and stature and favour with God and man (Luke 2:41-52). And as we walk in His example, we claim His promise that if we abide in Him and His words abide in us, that whatever we ask, it will be done (John 15:7).

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