Narcissus, according to Greek mythology, fell in love with his reflection as he gazed at his mirrored image reflecting from a stream. Consumed with himself, things did not go well for Narcissus, and he perished in his self-obsession.
This story came to mind recently as I read a blog post that discussed the detriment of reading the Bible and looking for ourselves first. The blog writer explained that for years she read the Bible looking for herself first in Scripture, seeking encouragement, direction, and affirmation. She compared reading the Bible in this manner to gazing into the eyes of someone wearing mirrored sunglasses, seeing mostly herself, and missing the deep, loving gaze of the eyes behind the glasses. In like manner, I can read God’s Word in a self-focused way, like spiritual navel-gazing, and miss the bigger treasure of God’s glory, His plan, and His character as revealed in His Word. Of course, I am reminded in Scripture to be not just a hearer, but a doer of God’s Word. Application of His Word in my life is vitally important, thus seeing myself in His treasured words is valid. However, if I fail to look for God first as I read, I will miss revelations of His character, love, and amazing redemptive story woven throughout Scripture.
I’m seeing this tendency in myself as I am reading through the Old Testament this year. I am guilty as charged as my eyes glaze over and I’m tempted to skip genealogy lists or the specific instructions on how to build the ark. Of course, I may not need to know how many cubits of gopher wood were used to build the ark, but if this detail is included in His Word, then God put it there for a reason. These specific details reveal deep aspects of God’s character and magnify and glorify His name. Pausing to ponder these details, I see that God is meticulous, a God of amazing order, not chaos. A God-first reading of Scripture leads to application: this detailed God is the same God who numbers the hairs on my head, and if so, my God is aware of every detail of my life.
John Piper preached a sermon entitled, “You Become What You Behold,” where he stated, “Meditating on and looking intently at the person and work of Christ will result in transformation… something happens to us as we look at Christ.”
Yes, friends, as we look for Christ, and not first for ourselves, we are being ‘renewed day by day, transformed into the same image from one degree to another’’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). As His image-bearer, I want to look more and more like Christ. The question remains, whose reflection am I seeking first as I gaze at Scripture? What am I hoping to behold as I read? Unlike Narcissus, may I seek His face first and fall in love with the reflection of Jesus more than myself. He must become greater, I must become less (John 3:30).