Nov 25, 2008

Tozer Made Easy - Part 7 of 10

by Dan Grubbs

The Pursuit of God - Chapter 7: "The Gaze of the Soul"

Tozer takes the complex concept of faith and expands on our understanding by writing that “faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.”

High-sounding words, certainly. But, the metaphor is referring to that inward eye that “looks at” or contemplates the natural and supernatural.

This chapter is more practical advice about true faith than an exercise to define it. Therefore, Tozer encourages us to gaze with our inward eye at God. He uses a short illustration to help us understand this idea of faith and “looking”. He writes of the snakes biting the Hebrews in the wilderness and they were to only “look” with their eyes and be healed. This is an indication of the heart of the one doing the looking.

Christ is always our best example and Tozer points us to Christ for this, too. He wrote, “Indeed Jesus taught that He wrought His works by always keeping His inward eyes upon His Father. His power lay in His continuous look at God (John 5:19-21).”

More than a one-time act

According to the author, faith is summarized in Hebrews. It tells us that we are to be, “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” According to Tozer, we gain understanding that “faith is not a once-done act, but a continuous gaze of the heart at the Triune God.”

He teaches in this chapter that faith and believing and looking are synonymous and the scriptures do bear him out. This makes believing that inward attention focused on God and His Son.

Can we do this continually? It would be to our benefit and Christ’s joy if we did. But, we fail at times. Tozer explains that “God takes [intended belief] for our choice and makes what allowances He must for the thousand distractions which beset us in this evil world.”

Where is consideration of ourselves? This is a dangerous consideration as it distracts us from God and may demonstrate that our faith wasn’t genuine. According to Tozer, the very idea of faith in God is the “least selfregarding of the virtues.”

This inward looking to our Creator is what will assure us of a successful walk with Him. If we find we don’t experience the joy and peace we are promised in life, there is only the self to examine. Tozer put it this way:
The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him.

Does faith save us?

This is an intriguing question to which many Christians would answer yes. Tozer answers it this way, “Faith is not in itself a meritorious act; the merit is in the One toward Whom it is directed.”

Again, faith is a focusing of our gaze on Christ and the installation of blinders to our own desires. More eloquently that most can put it, Tozer tells us that when lifting our inward eyes to gaze upon God, He will respond in a joy-giving way. “When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on this earth.”

Gazing at God is simple

Contemplating God and believing who He is will not require a theologian’s knowledge. It is a simple thing. And this simplicity, according to the author, is easy enough for the least of all of mankind.

This believing (a.k.a. looking) requires nothing more than a willing heart. No religion or special items or special time or special place is required. This is God ensuring that “the one life-and-death essential can never be subject to the caprice of accident.”

Our teacher lets us know that he understands that we must attend to the things of daily living. Most humans cannot spend their waking moments in continual contemplation of God and His word. Tozer indicates that solid Christians do focus their attention to earthly affairs, but also have “within them a secret communion always going on.” Our attention can be drawn to focus on a responsibility, but following that, our attention must fly “at once to God again.”

Perfecting the gaze

This “looking” is very much like a spiritual discipline. Some view it as a combination of spiritual disciplines, such as prayer, meditation, Bible study, stillness.

Enhancing these practices to perfect and sharpen our gaze on God are living and serving in a body of believers. But, our personal relationship, our one-on-one walk with God, will be most impacted by our inward gaze of Him.

What does that really mean? Leave it to Tozer to give the answer to that question. He writes, “When the habit of inwardly gazing Godward becomes fixed within us we shall be ushered onto a new level of spiritual life.”

Himself pointing to a favorite Christian writer, Tozer was a student of Nicholas of Cusa. He quotes Nicholas in this chapter to further illustrate his point. As complex as the words may be, they are worth the effort to understanding the gaze of our soul toward the Author and Perfector of our faith. Nicholas of Cusa wrote of when God’s gaze meets ours:

There is the source of all delights that can be desired; not only can nought
better be thought out by men and angels, but nought better can exist in any mode
of being! For it is the absolute maximum of every rational desire, than which a
greater cannot be.

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