Monday, September 16, 2013

"Not By Sight"

   "We walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).
    "He (Moses) endured as seeing Him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:27).

    In a discussion with a new believer many years ago, the young man commented with a bit of exasperation, "If only I see and hear Christ the way the disciples did, my faith would be a lot stronger!"

    In the ultimate sense, this statement was true.  God's purposes involve "face to face" relationship with the risen Lord Jesus Christ in eternity to come (I Corinthians 13:12).  We will one day enter directly into our Savior's presence, and will shine forth in a perfected and glorified state of love, faith, obedience, and devotion to God.  This "blessed hope" promises wonders beyond imagining, and we do well to look forward to an unfettered and unshadowed experience of relationship with God.

    For the present, however, to "see and hear Christ the way the disciples did" would not strengthen us for the life of faith to which our Heavenly Father presently calls us.  Indeed, the experience of these early followers of the Lord abundantly confirms this fact.  Only after the Lord Jesus left them did Peter, John, James and the rest enter into lives of such faithfulness that rather than forsake Him (as they did when He died on the cross), the Apostles would faithfully bear their own crosses.  All, with the possible exception of John, are believed to have been martyred for their faith in the Savior.  Moreover, legend holds that the Peter who thrice denied the Lord Jesus at Calvary requested upon his own execution to be crucified upside down (because he believed himself unworthy to die as did his Lord).  The Lord's disciples thus lived - and died - far greater lives of faithfulness when they couldn't see Him than when they could.

     What made the difference?  The indwelling Christ, as revealed in the Apostles' hearts by the Holy Spirit, provides the answer.

    "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:16-17).

    For now, it is best that we not see, that we not hear, that we not touch, that we not experience the Lord Jesus with our senses.  As presently constituted, we would make idols of tangible evidences, worshiping the gifts rather than the Giver.  This would lead not to faith, but an increasingly degraded understanding of God and relationship with Him.  More importantly, there are things about our Lord that can only be learned when we must walk with Him apart from sight and evidence.  These are the days when the Holy Spirit's presence in our inward environment constitutes opportunity to know the heart of God, and thus to honor Him in an outward environment wherein His dynamic involvement is most often veiled to anything but the eyes of faith.  Indeed, the our Lord's presence is most often in direct proportion to the appearance of His absence.  He thus privileges His trusting children to a life of faith wherein the faithfulness of God somehow shines all the brighter because we must first experience it as a matter of trust rather than sight.

    A final thought.  How it must bless the heart of our Father when we must "look" to Him and for Him in the darkness, and with tear-filled eyes that make our vision even more clouded.  As the old saying suggests, "When we cannot see the hand of God, we must trust His heart."  Yes, there are glories in these days of faith that will not be available to us in an eternity when we shall know even as we are known (I Corinthians 13:12).  May we thus respond as the Holy Spirit offers to us opportunities to know, love, trust, and obey a Father whom we cannot see as yet, but who will nonetheless reveal Himself in sublime and singular ways reserved for those who trust His heart when they cannot see His hand.

"Jesus Christ, whom having not seen, ye love, in whom though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
(I Peter 1:7-8)
"Blessed are they who have not see, and yet have believed."
(John 20:29)

No comments: