A Theology of People Watching, Part 2

Mark Beuving —  June 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

People watching is fascinating because each person is uniquely crafted by God and people bear the image of God. This is true of every person, whether they have been redeemed or not. While it’s true that sin taints every aspect of our existence and therefore causes us to resemble God less and less, humanity still bears the fingerprints of its Creator. Try as he might, man simply cannot re-create himself entirely—his very existence points to the God who formed him. And although after the fall man does not resemble God the way he should, he still bears the image of God (James 3:9).

But there is a side to humanity that makes people watching an incredibly God-honoring activity. When God breaks into a person’s life, the results are absolutely unbelievable.

When God reaches into the core of our being, removes the heart of stone, gives us a living, beating heart, and puts his very Spirit inside of us (see Ezek. 36:25-27), something beautiful is bound to break free in our lives. Something about us is going to look a little different.

"The Conversion of Saint Paul" by Luca Giordano

When a man sets out on a journey to kill those who follow Jesus, is confronted with the blinding light of Jesus in all his glory, and then persistently sacrifices every fiber of his being to see the message of Jesus embraced in every part of the world, it is a beautiful thing (see the book of Acts). When a spiritually dead person comes alive and begins to do the things that God has created her to do, we can’t help but take notice (see Eph. 2:1-10).

Most of the people around us exhibit what Paul calls “the works of the flesh” (see Gal. 5:19-21). Look around. How much envy, sensuality, division, rivalry, and sexual immorality do you see?

By contrast, God has placed his Spirit inside of his people. And the Spirit works in us to produce things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Gal. 5:22-23). These aren’t things that people can muster up by sheer will power. These are fruits of the Spirit.

So sit back and people watch. When you see a brother or sister in Christ exhibiting goodness, being supernaturally patient, or rejoicing in a difficult situation, you are seeing a clear example of God at work in the life of a once-broken human heart. When God’s unrelenting redemption enters the picture, people watching takes on a depth of beauty that we could never anticipate.

The simple fact is that people point to God. Sometimes this is in spite of their best efforts. In denying God’s existence with their words, atheists are making use of the brains, vocal cords, and rational thought process that have been crafted by the very God they are denying. Their message is therefore dissonant and ultimately retains its witness to the God who formed them.

But sometimes people point us to God more directly. Very often, the beauty and truth that finds its ultimate source in God himself breaks out in the lives of his people. So watch away. There is something unique about human beings (see Gen. 1-2, Ps. 8, or Heb. 2). People watching can help us see God in a way that we would never pick up from reading a book. Or reading a blog.

 

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Mark Beuving

Mark Beuving

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Mark Beuving currently serves as Associate Pastor at Creekside Church in Rocklin, CA. Prior to going back into pastoral ministry, Mark spent ten years on staff at Eternity Bible College as a Campus Pastor, Dean of Students, and then Associate Professor. Mark now teaches online adjunct for Eternity. He is passionate about building up the body of Christ, training future leaders for the Church, and writing. Though he is interested in many areas of theology and philosophy, Mark is most fascinated with practical theology and exploring the many ways in which the Bible can speak to and transform our world. He is the author of "Resonate: Enjoying God's Gift of Music" and the co-author with Francis Chan of "Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples." Mark lives in Rocklin with his wife and two daughters.