What Does It Mean to “See Him as He Is?”

What we see depends on who we are.

At the end of a sermon on faith, hope, and charity, Mormon encourages his listeners to pray that God will fill them with His love “that ye may become the sons of God, that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (Moroni 7:48).

This passage echoes the words of the apostle John in the New Testament:

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2).

What does it mean to see Him as He is?

  • It means to have an accurate perception of His character, His attributes, and His role in the universe.
  • It also means that we have achieved a level of spiritual maturity. Our recognition of truth becomes more precise as we become more pure. That’s why both Mormon and John said, “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” We will see better because we will be better.

The prophet Joseph Smith taught:

The nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 51).

We see the opposite of this phenomenon every day. How often do we observe that the judgments rendered by an individual tell us more about the individual than about the thing being judged?

One version of this cognitive failure is the Dunning-Kruger effect. Psychologists have observed that people who are unskilled in a particular field are also incapable of assessing their own skill level and that of others. In the words of David Dunning, “If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent … The skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is” (Self-insight: Roadblocks and Detours on the Path to Knowing Thyself, New York: Psychology Press. pp. 14–15).

Sometimes, our ineptitude results in a foolish cynicism. Truman Madsen related the following story which illustrates this point:

A woman…came into a famous art museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. She took only five minutes to walk briskly past masterworks produced over the centuries. Then with a harumph she turned her back to leave. A guard said to her quietly, “Madam, the paintings are not on trial. You are.” (“Sacred Treasures,” BYU Commencement Address, 12 August 1993).

These works of art were not less magnificent simply because she was unable to perceive their greatness. As Nephi observed:

The things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet. Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet;… in other words—they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels (1 Nephi 19:7).

Today, I will strive to be more like the Savior so that I can more clearly recognize the Savior. I will remember that my perception is faulty because I am imperfect. But I will move forward with hope, knowing that as I improve and mature, my perception will become clearer, until one day I am capable of seeing Him as He is.

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