There is something about looking at God that makes us godlier. There is something about basking in His love that makes us more loving. There is something about thinking about His grace that makes us more gracious. There is something about worship.
On that day we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. There is something about seeing Him. There is something about worship.
It is true on a human level. Consider the following research:
A study published in the March 2006 issue of “Personality and Individual Differences” may have the answer. Twenty-two people, divided equally between male and female, participated in the study. They were asked to judge the looks, personalities and ages of 160 married couples. The participants viewed photographs of men and women separately and were not told who was married to whom. The subjects consistently judged people who were married as being similar in appearance and personality. The researchers also found that couples who had been together longer appeared more similar.
If a man will come to look like his bride by staring at her over the years, how much more will the bride of Christ come to look like Christ by beholding Him.
It is not only true of husbands and wives, it is also true of tennis players. Consider the typical coaching session:
Imagine what goes on inside the head of an eager student taking a lesson from an equally eager new tennis pro. Suppose that the student is a middle-aged businessman bent on improving his position on the club ladder. The pro is standing at the net with a large basket of balls, and being a bit uncertain whether his student is considering him worth the lesson fee, he is carefully evaluating every shot. “That’s good, but you’re rolling your racket face over a little on your follow-through, Mr. Weil. Now shift your weight onto your front foot as you step into the ball… Now you’re taking your racket back too late … Your backswing should be a little lower than on that last shot… That’s it, much better.” Before long, Mr. Weil’s mind is churning with six thoughts about what he should be doing and sixteen thoughts about what he shouldn’t be doing. Improvement seems dubious and very complex, but both he and the pro are impressed by the careful analysis of each stroke and the fee is gladly paid upon receipt of the advice to “practice all this, and eventually you’ll see a big improvement.”
That is the typical coaching session, and it never works. Let me show you a more excellent way:
My next lesson that day was with a beginner named Paul who had never held a racket. I was determined to show him how to play using as few instructions as possible; I’d try to keep his mind uncluttered and see if it made a difference. So I started by telling Paul I was trying something new: I was going to skip entirely my usual explanations to beginning players about the proper grip, stroke and footwork for the basic forehand. Instead, I was going to hit ten forehands myself, and I wanted him to watch carefully, not thinking about what I was doing, but simply trying to grasp a visual image of the forehand. He was to repeat the image in his mind several times and then just let his body imitate. After I had hit ten forehands, Paul imagined himself doing the same. Then, as I put the racket into his hand, sliding it into the correct grip, he said to me, “I noticed that the first thing you did was to move your feet.” I replied with a noncommittal grunt and asked him to let his body imitate the forehand as well as it could. He dropped the ball, took a perfect backswing, swung forward, racket level, and with natural fluidity ended the swing at shoulder height, perfect for his first attempt! But wait, his feet; they hadn’t moved an inch from the perfect ready position he had assumed before taking his racket back. They were nailed to the court. I pointed to them, and Paul said, “Oh yeah, I forgot about them!” The one element of the stroke Paul had tried to remember was the one thing he didn’t do! Everything else had been absorbed and reproduced without a word being uttered or an instruction being given!
How does this relate to discipleship? Much in every way. Consider the typical attempt at discipleship:
- Read your Bible.
- Study your Bible.
- Try really hard to do what it says.
- Confess your sins.
- Don’t try so hard. Let go and let God. Trust.
This is a typical discipleship session and it rarely works. Let me show you a more excellent way: Look to Jesus. Worship Him. Adore Him. Be transformed in His presence. James Smith rightly observes:
So discipleship is more a matter of hungering and thirsting than of knowing and believing. Jesus’s command to follow him is a command to align our loves and longings with his—to want what God wants, to desire what God desires, to hunger and thirst after God and crave a world where he is all in all—a vision encapsulated by the shorthand “the kingdom of God.”
Jesus is a teacher who doesn’t just inform our intellect but forms our very loves. He isn’t content to simply deposit new ideas into your mind; he is after nothing less than your wants, your loves, your longings.
 The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance by W. Timothy Gallwey
 James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2016).
This service is like Netflix for Bible Lessons. You pay a low monthly, quarterly or annual fee and get access to all the lessons. New lessons that correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines are automatically included, as well as a backlog of thousands of lessons. Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking, as well as answers from well-known authors such as David Jeremiah, Charles Swindoll and Max Lucado. For more information, or to sign up, click here.