The Psalmist said:
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)
At first glance we say, “David, that is 3 things! Dwell, gaze, and meditate (inquire). Learn to count!” But we should not dismiss David as mathematically inept. He did in fact grab 5 stones from the river before killing Goliath, as legend has it Goliath had 4 brothers.
But in fact this is indeed one thing… for the purpose of the dwelling and the meditating is to gaze. To look at the beauty of the Lord. We should hear the words of our Lord echoing David to Lazarus’ sisters:
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)
Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus, (the new “temple” of worship – John 4) and to gaze at his beauty. Is this not what Jesus also meant when he said to the rich young ruler:
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)
How sad that he did not respond to the love of God, but went away sad because he didn’t want to give up treasures on earth, for the most valuable treasure in heaven: the radiance of the glory of God! (Hebrews 1:3) Surely this is what Paul had discovered when God was pleased to reveal the Son to him (Galatians 1:16) in blinding light on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9:3) This is why he wrote:
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
We know from verse 8 that his goal here is to attain Christ… Who is the exact representation of the Father. To see Christ is the very definition of salvation (2 Corinthians 4:6) because to see ultimate beauty is to be changed forever. Once you see God, why would you look to anything else?
And isn’t this what Philip was intuitively expecting to happen when he made his request of Jesus at the last supper?
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
To which Jesus responded (I think in a loving tone, not a rebuking tone…)
“Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:8)
To see Jesus is to see the Father, because the Son is the radiance of the source, the exact imprint of the nature of the Father. (Hebrews 1:3) So David longed to see our day (Matthew 13:7) where by with the new faculty of spiritual sight given to us by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13), we can see the Son of the Father, and seeing him with unveiled faces, be transformed by him, from one degree of glory to another. (2 Corinthians 3:18). Thus when we ask God, as Moses did on Sinai, to “show us your glory”, God speaks (the Word – see John 1:1) and the content of that word is sovereign mercy and grace:
And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. (Exodus 33:19)
And now that grace has appeared, bringing salvation for all people. (Titus 2:11) So again we see the fullness of God’s glory (his grace and mercy) expressed in the person of Jesus Christ.
So whoever is reading this, I beg you as the hymn says, to turn your eyes upon Jesus, and to look full, in his wonderful face. And I promise that the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.
Thus the centre of the Christian faith can be defined in 3 simple words that sum up what this “one thing” is:
Look to Jesus