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The devoted gaze

by Nathan Stewart last modified Jan 15, 2016 05:41 AM

Don’t we live in superficial times? There is so much for our eyes to see but we tend to observe so little of the detail in any one thing. So much with which we are confronted is the product of clever marketing. As we navigate the markets of our age there is an overwhelming barrage of new, shiny, polished, simple and targeted images and messages that flood our attention. There is very little that demands our close attention. Neither have we the time to inspect things carefully.

Careful inspection requires undivided attention but we are continually distracted. The market has not only followed us home but it travels about with us in the smartphones in our pockets or we find it on any of the array of networked screens that clutter our lives. In this state of constant distraction have we lost the art of the deep delve? Do we remember what it is to hold a devoted gaze?

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul revealed that he was struggling to warn and teach everyone with all wisdom so that he may, “present everyone mature in Christ.” Maturity is something that grows over time. A mature relationship is one where the parties have been through much together and often the marks of that maturity can be observed on the face of each party as they look at the other knowingly. To the devoted gaze of a loving husband the growing lines of age on his wife’s face bring only deeper fondness. The wife observes her husband’s silver hair with an intimate knowledge of the stresses and strains that accompanied the appearance of each strand. Their depth of understanding is borne of years of being “knit together in love.”

The goal of Paul’s struggle in teaching the gospel to the early Christians was, “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col 2) His reference to God’s mystery is somewhat ironic because, like wrinkles on the face or grey hair, this is a mystery hidden in plain sight. These “riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of…Christ” are afforded to those who having, “received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith.” The treasures of wisdom and knowledge contained in the Scriptures are fully available only to those who are prepared to offer their devoted gaze.