Tuesday 10 August
With Amy Summerfield
Amy Summerfield is a leader, pioneer and evangelist. She heads up Kyria as CEO, with its mission to challenge, empower and release women into there spheres of influence.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”Numbers 6:24 – 26
I love this passage in Numbers passage. And I know that for so many of us the text or the song of this blessing has been so poignant as it has reminded us of God’s presence, His peace and His help during this time of pandemic.
I want to talk tonight about being positioned for peace. When I think about this passage, I cannot help but think of an image of a dad lifting a child. The power and comfort behind these verses are symbolised by that picture. A couple of years ago I took an image of my nephew – seeing the sheer joy, the delight and the safety that my brother and his son had with one another reminds me of this blessing.
Picture it: the Lord shining His face on you. God is blessing us. He is quite simply telling us that He wants a face to face encounter with us. His expression, His eye contact, His approval and affirmation is with us. He is looking up at us.
We know that someone’s countenance can be downcast or lifted up. It can be turned away or turned towards. This verse implys that God wants to bless us with a face to face encounter. He lifts His face towards us. He makes direct eye contact.
There are five levels of eye contact
- Unconscious glance – the moment when we look at someone and we quickly look away.
- Conscious glance – taking a look
- The glance and a half – we look, we look away and then we look back. It becomes more intentional.
- Double glance – that’s when we look back and look again.
- A gaze – this is when someone looks at you for two or three seconds of eye contact. It is a clear sign of interest and affirmation.
How does this relate to our theme? I believe God is taking us on a journey from a glance to gaze. The God of peace is making a people of peace through a face to face encounter with us.
Give up the struggle and the fight. Relax in the omnipotence of the Lord Jesus; look up into His lovely face and as you behold Him, he will transform you into His likeness. You do the beholding and God does the transforming. There is no shortcut to holiness.Alan Redpath
All too often we want the transforming without the beholding. We need to learn how to gaze at our Father who truly loves us. God is encouraging us that the true pathway to peace is not found in a glance but a gaze, the consistency of beholding His face. The only way to know Him is to receive regular face to face encounters with God.
When our reference point is Jesus, everything looks different. The things we’ve been striving to understand can be changed in an instant, when we learn to behold Him. If we are riveted on Jesus and not what is around us. We find beauty where there was ugliness, potential instead of failure. When we behold our God, we become more like Him.
We see these face-to-face moments throughout scripture.
- Exodus speaks of how the Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend. As Moses experiences the fullness of God’s peace, he reflected that to those around him
- Peniel literally means the face of God and it is the place where Jacob has a wrestling match that he looks upon God’s face.
We can all think of a time when we’ve disappointed someone. Maybe we’ve heard those infamous words, “I just can’t look at you right now.” With God, the relationship is different. God always desires a face-to-face moment with us. Jesus is already positioned for peace and He is waiting to shine His face upon you.
In order for God’s peace to be truly experienced, we have to respond. In Luke 19 we see Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus. The story says, When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up and said, “Come down immediately, I must stay at your house.” All the people were muttering but Zacchaeus stood up and was willing to give half of his possessions to the poor and to pay back all those he had wronged.
Jesus makes peace with Zacchaeus and then he goes on to make peace with others. That is the act of beholding that leads to transformation. Zacchaeus’ name means “pure” but he didn’t live up to his name until he encountered Jesus. Jesus goes against everyone’s thoughts and judgements. God has compassion and through Jesus, Zacchaeus adjusted his glance to gaze. That meal with Jesus changed everything. The Almighty had a face to face with His beloved Zacchaeus.
Jesus doesn’t stop there. There was the time when He bent down to the woman caught in adultery. He was lowering Himself in order that her shame could be eradicated and then He said to her (face to face), “Go and sin no more.”
He humbled Himself to wash His disciples’ feet. Saying to them, go and do likewise. Jesus looks up to us not down on us. This is totally countercultural. God is not looking down on us because of what we’ve done. Just like that picture of a father and child, He looks up to us with the potential of what we can become in Him.
Our lives should be changed forever as a result of this face-to-face encounter. We have a responsibility to lift our face too. For too long the church has been perched in high places, looking down on people. The peace of God comes as we behold Jesus and as we behold others, in a loving gaze not an unconscious glance.
We need to stop looking down on others. In the same was that God is looks us to up with hope and faith of what we are becoming, we need to do that to others. We need to repent. We need to say sorry for the times we have denied God’s peace. We need to allow that face-to-face exchange to happen in and through us.
Let us change our posture.
Are we letting Jesus having eye contact with us? How can we be a people that go from a glance to a gaze? What does that look like for us? In terms of our priorities and choices.
Does your posture give you the ability to gaze at Jesus? You do the beholding and God does the transforming. There is no shortcut to holiness. True transformation comes when we learn to behold him.
It is a good rule never to look into the face of man in the morning until you have looked into the face of God.Spurgeon
Imagine if the people and places and spaces that we spend time in, came from the way we prioritised spending time with God.
Let’s be a people that change our position
Where are you sitting? Who only has our glance when they really deserve our gaze? Where do we need to overcome our prejudice in order to be those people of peace? How is our eye contact with people and places that truly matter to God? Let us be encouraged tonight that God wants to be peace in you and peace through you.
How does He do this? It is through a face-to-face encounter with Him. The most apt response is to take a few breaths, take a few moments to start to putting into practice what it looks like to behold; to gaze on Jesus instead of glancing. This message will challenge and provoke us in different ways. If you think you don‘t have time, deny that voice. Jesus always has time for you. He is looking for this full on face-to-face encounter. Let us stretch ourselves in the practice of beholding.
Lord we welcome you. You are already present. You are already here. You are so kind and gracious. I pray for those who are listening that they would receive the comfort of that image – you our father looking up to us, looking into our eyes so that we can receive peace and from that place, we can be a people of peace.
We behold you right now. Amen.