Friday, 16 March 2012

The Spectators

Photo Credit: Yersinia Pestis
Flickr Creative Commons

“You are the God 
who sees me”
Genesis 16:13 (NIV)

“There are more eyes fixed on us than we may be aware of, and we do not see as we are seen” (paraphrase of Charles Spurgeon). Though we may often think of ourselves as being relatively obscure and unobserved as we travel through this life, the truth of the matter is really quite the opposite. The fact is that we are seen by beings that we ourselves cannot see.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the spirit realm. This is true of the demonic spirits as much as it is true of the angelic spirits. There is another realm, the spirit realm, that I believe does see every part of our lives. I do not believe that there is anything that you and I can do in life that can be perfectly concealed. Nor do I believe that we need to worry ourselves too much about this. However, the fact is, whether we realize it or not, like ‘Big Brother,’ we are being watched.

The opening verses of Job provide a good example of this. There we read of how even Satan noticed that Job was a blessed man of God. Satan (and no doubt his demons too) saw God’s hedge of protection around Job (Job 1: 9-10), and reading into this a little further, they were no doubt watching Job’s life quite closely. Job was seen by beings that he himself did not see.

The Bible also gives us many examples of how angels walked among men, sometimes seen and sometimes unseen, but always seeing. Just as they did then, I believe they also do now. Though we may see a person standing in a certain place, maybe it’s not really a human that we see at all. Maybe it’s an angel sent from the throne of God. Who knows? In Hebrews 13:2 we are reminded to “entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Could you imagine? You invite a bunch of people over, and one of those fellowshipping around the table with you, though you don’t know it, is actually an angel of God! Wow!

Photo Credit: Tom Wisdom, Flickr Creative Commons
Paul tells us that, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12). There is a lot going on around us that we do not necessarily see. Elisha prayed that God would open his servant’s eyes to see some of these things. “The Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17).

Yes, we are seen by beings that we ourselves do not see. And while I am convinced that all this is true, the most important one who sees us is God himself. “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).

So important was this concept to the ancient Greeks, that they actually had a word for it. It was the word, “theisthai,” which, as I understand it, means “the God who sees.” What does God see? He sees everything and everyone at every time and at every place. Nothing escapes His notice. God doesn’t miss anything. We cannot pull the wool over God’s eyes. As Spurgeon once said, “strike out the thought that He sees me, and you extinguish deity by a single stroke…He sees you as if there were nobody else in the world for Him to look at.” Scholars speak of this as God’s omniscience.

Does coming to the realization that we are being watched, not just by other spirit beings, but by God himself change the way we run this race called life? I think about that sometimes. When I get up in the morning and begin my day, what does God see me doing? As I travel to work and wrestle traffic, what kind of attitude does He see in me? When I am tailgated and cut off, what does God think about the way I responded to that other driver? Or what does He think about those thoughts running through my head as I take that second look at the scantly-clad beautiful woman walking down the street? How about all those times that God sees me being insensitive or short tempered? Or when I stumble yet again and again, and appear more like a child of the world (or devil?) than a child of God, I wonder what God thinks when He sees all that. Do you ever wonder about that? I do.

Photo Credit: Fergal of Claddagh
Flickr Creative Commons
Please understand that I am certainly not trying to be legalistic here. Nor am I suggesting that you and I could ever do anything to earn God’s approval. Isaiah said that, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6; NIV). While the world of religion may use God’s seeing you as a method of bondage to further keep you enslaved, I do not believe that’s God’s purpose in seeing your every move has to do with religious bondage. If not that, then what?

For the true Christian, when we speak of God seeing us, we speak of His looking at us just as He looks at His Son. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27), one of my favourite verses, speaks to me of God seeing Jesus when He sees me. His seeing us is the same as His seeing His Son, who is now in us. That is so profound a mystery that I can scarcely wrap my head around it. Christ in YOU! Christ in ME? Wow! What does God see when He sees the true Christian? Bottom line, He sees Christ.

Does that mean that it suddenly doesn’t matter when Christians sin? It does matter in the sense that I don’t ever want to grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). Unfortunately we Christians do sin all time, and the strange thing is, often we don’t seem to even recognize it as sin. How so, you may ask? We do so by gossiping against other Christians. We do so by an unloving belittling of the doctrines of others that don’t line up with ours (Yes, I’m guilty of this too). We murder and we commit adultery. Now, you may be thinking, “hold on a minute!” Think I’m wrong about this? Maybe we should reread what Jesus said in Matthew 5. Ready for another hot potato? What about divorce? Last time I checked, there was only one acceptable time for this (Matthew 5:32), but we seem to have expanded that list to include any expression from our hard hearts.

Photo Credit: dr_zoidberg
Flickr Creative Commons, "Heart of Stone"
And therein lies the key: our hard hearts. Watchman Nee once put it this way, “God’s will had never altered. From the beginning right on until today it is just the same. Here in is a most important principle. If we want to know the mind of God, we must look at His commands in Genesis and not look at his permissions later on, because every later permission has this explanation, ‘because of your hardness of heart’ (emphasis mine).

So is it important to be mindful of the things that God sees when He looks at me? I believe that it is. I am a work in progress, a man who still tends to have a hard heart, a long way from being perfect in terms of the flesh. “But I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).

Yet there remains this grand dichotomy. Though I often still seem to have a heart of stone, I also at the same time have the Saviour’s heart beating within me. I am mindful of what God sees in me and “I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27; ESV). At the same time I can praise Him knowing that when God sees me, He also sees “Christ in me” (Colossians 1:27), and just as Christ was raised again, I too have already been raised with Him (Colossians 3:1). There remains now only one thing to be said: Thank you, Jesus.

Father God, I thank you and I praise you that “you are the God who sees me.” Thank you for the “hope of glory.” Thank you for “Christ in me.” Help me to be mindful of how I run this race called life. And may my love toward others also be a testimony of your love for them too. Amen.
You may also want to see: The Spectators; Part 2


  1. From Facebook:

    Are you SURE God had placed a hedge of protection around Job? That was an accusation of Satan. God never acknowledged it, nor stated that He was removing it. He only stated that Job was in fact vulnerable to Satan.

    Why would we assume that what Satan said was true?

    1. No, I am not assuming that what Satan said was true. You're right in saying that God didn't acknowledge it ... as far as it is recorded in the Scriptures. However, John 21:25 reminds us that not everything that Jesus said or did is recorded either. Still, Satan said what he did, and God's permissions followed Satan's accusations.