To Be Seen

A quick glance over your Instagram feed can show you a lot of things about a lot of people. You can see what people are up to, what they find funny, where they're going or where they've been, who they're marrying, and usually either highly healthy meals or highly delicious meals (rarely an "in between meal"). Twitter is different. This feed, for the most part, is usually for hot takes and arguments; it's for retweeting someone you follow saying something witty so that "that other person" or "people from that group" might see it and start seeing things your way. Indeed, for the everyday observer on either Instagram or Twitter, there's plenty to see. But that's where I'm going. We want to be seen.

In reverse order: we want to be seen as witty, on the right side of an argument, worthy of envy because we are eating the best food or the healthiest food; we want to be seen as athletic, social, and important. We want to be seen for where we're going and the cool spots we've been, and we want to be seen as funny, someone with whom time is worth spending. I open my Instagram and twitter feeds and I see tidal wave of people shouting consciously or unconsciously, "Look at me!"

Is this a bad thing? Is it time to shut down "the gram" and do something else? To be honest, I think we should be less concerned with the actual posting. And we should be more curious about that deep desire to be seen. Where does it comes from? Or better yet, who does it come from?

Jesus Sees

Speaking of being seen, one of my favorite acts of Jesus is from Mark 10.

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 18 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.' " 20 And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth." 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (v. 17-22)

Jesus' gaze, as described in the Gospels, always mattered. Whatever his eyes met, he saw it clearly. The Greek word (emblepō) used here for "looking" denotes an intense gaze, one that deeply searches a person. It's the same word that is used in Luke (Lk. 22:62) to describe the way Jesus looks at Peter after Peter denies him, a look that cuts to the very heart. Some scholars argue that it's this very look that saved Peter. Mark connects this look in Mark 10 to Jesus loving this particular man. Some commenters argue that this man was a hypocrite, or full of arrogance. It's unlikely that Jesus would look on hypocrisy or arrogance with love. He simply misunderstood that the point of the law was to trust God, and God was now standing in front of him, asking the man to trust him. God wants to show us in this passage that only trust and rest in the person of Jesus, can free one up to sell one's possessions. Isn't it interesting that as the man and Jesus have this back and forth, Jesus sees everything about this man? He knows where he came from, his parents, siblings, past experiences; he knows where he is going, his future, his sense of humor even, and every other way that God has made him and formed him. Jesus saw all of this, and Jesus loved him, even as the man misunderstood what it meant to follow him.

To Be Seen by Jesus

Jesus sees where you've been, your story. All of the incredible experiences that you've had, the things you've done, your achievements, he sees them all. That's the thing about Instagram and Twitter, they usually stop at the good things. We often desire only to be seen with those in mind. But, Jesus' look goes beyond that. He sees everything. That's what can also make this look uncomfortable. He sees your failures. He looks and sees the events of your life that evil has orchestrated against you. He sees the way you've been hurt, lied to, or have given yourself over to things that you were so sure would give you what you needed, only to leave you exhausted. He looks at you, and he loves you even in the middle of your continued misunderstanding of how to trust him. He sees your weariness and offers you, like the man in front of him, to come to him and to leave the strategies you've developed over the course of your life to do in order to be loved. To walk away sad is to refuse this offer.

Your Instagram, Twitter, or even Tik Tok are open doors to seeing what you are really after, just like most actions in life. Behind these doors lie hearts that long to be seen, known, and loved by your Creator. God made you to live life in front of his loving gaze.
"And Jesus, looking at him, loved him..."

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