Sunday, 7 July 2013

Seeing and Being Seen

Becoming a Christian entails a new perspective on the world. It's just not possible to believe that Jesus has been resurrected without also affecting how we see the rest of the world around us. Right at the heart of a new worldview is a new view of ourselves and of the people in the world around us. To that end, Bonhoeffer has this to say about how we see ourselves:
"The person now lives in the contemplation of Christ. This is the gift of faith, that one no longer looks upon oneself, but solely upon the salvation that has come to one from without. One finds oneself in Christ, because already one is in Christ, in that one seeks oneself there in Christ." - Bonhoeffer, Act and Being
In other words the Christian does not find themselves by reflecting on themselves, but in the singular focus on the person of Christ. Christ is where we find ourselves. Christ is also what we are to become. When we look at Christ we see ourselves purified here and now, and we see ourselves as we are becoming. As we continue to live as disciples of Christ we also continue to become like Christ. Our awareness of ourselves is found in our focus on Christ, not our focus on ourselves.

Furthermore, if the Christian only truly sees themselves in Christ, the Christian can only truly see others in Christ. In a way, they become like the Christ-in-need of Matthew 25. Every other person is the Christ who needs to be cared for in sickness, who needs to be fed in hunger. And when we see that Christ in them as well as ourselves in Christ, we immediately become the Christ who is able to provide what they need.

By contemplating Christ rather than reflecting on our own selves we are able to see Christ in other people, and see ourselves as the body of Christ at work in the world today. The Christian activity of seeing and being seen begins with seeing Christ, then it moves to revealing Christ in the world around us, and ends with us being the hands and feet of Christ in the world today. We truly see in Christ, and we are truly seen in Christ.

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