Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Break out the Windex and Magnify the Lord!

If you've ever been on a trip to a scenic spot with children, you know that they will beg and plead to have a few coins to drop into the panoramic telescope that allows them to see the view close up. They love to press their faces against the hot metal and peer into the distance, usually reaching a hand around as if they will now be able to touch the mountain that is miles away. The viewer magnifies the distant scene making it appear as close as their fingertips.

We often use the expression, "magnify the Lord." We may hear it in church or read it in Scripture, but have you ever stopped to consider the meaning?

According to Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, magnify means the following:
  • 1 a : extol, laud b : to cause to be held in greater esteem or respect
  • 2 a : to increase in significance : intensify b : exaggerate
  • 3 : to enlarge in fact or in appearance
  • intransitive verb: to have the power of causing objects to appear larger than they are
The first definition, to extol or laud, is certainly our intent in the phrase, "magnify the Lord," but can we 'increase in significance" or "enlarge in fact or in appearance" when it comes to the Lord? Clearly there is nothing we can contribute that will increase who God is, nothing we can add to His divinity, power, or authority.

However, we can use these definitions to think about our worship and our lives in a new way. Consider how telescopes magnify our view of the stars. The stars are much bigger than the telescope, or even our planet - some are much larger than our sun! However, we can use a tiny telescope to see the immense star more clearly.

If we apply this definition to our efforts to magnify the Lord, we can be the tool through which others may see God more clearly. Through which they might sense His nearness and learn about His attributes.

Lenses like those in a telescope only work properly when they are clean. I've tried in vain to teach this concept to my nine-year-old who wears glasses. Inevitably, the lenses are covered with grimy fingerprints through which he struggles to see. No matter how many times I show him how to carefully clean the glasses so that he can see more clearly, they always seem to get dirty again.

We can't 'magnify the Lord' to those around us unless our lives are clean. I'm not talking perfection - because none of us are there! But just as Matthew needs to regularly examine his glasses for smudges and then take the necessary steps to clean them, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to take a good look at our lives, show us the smudges and then get to work on cleaning them up! Let's face it, if our lives tell a story that is contrary to our words, then no one is going to be able to see Jesus for all the grime.

When we moved into our current home, we had a sliding glass door for the first time. Our little dog, Zero, had never seen one before. The first several times I let him out for a walk, he came running back and slammed into the glass. I have to admit, we all enjoyed a good laugh and the little guy eventually learned his lesson. He still hesitates a moment and gives me an accusing glance before stepping through the open door.

It's a curious feature of glass - the cleaner it is, the harder it is to see the glass itself.

If we want to magnify the Lord, we need for the attention to be on Him and not on us. We should be transparent - simply a glass through which others can see Jesus. Being transparent means that life is not about me. It's not about my wants, my opinion or my plans. It is all about Jesus. When we make our lives all about Jesus, and allow others to see that in our lives, we bring Jesus within arms reach of them.

And like a little child on the mountaintop, they will want to reach out and take hold of the beauty before them.

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