Seeing

I remember the first time I saw “guess what it is” photos.  My mom got an issue of a magazine chock full of games, and one of them was photos of objects super close up.  Some of them seemed almost impossible to guess.  Even common things we see often or know well can be incredibly hard to guess at an unusual angle and zoomed in vantage point.

Before there was even photography, Paul understood the difficulty of our viewpoint here on earth.  He said,

“For now we see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12a, KJV)

I can’t imagine what the world would look like through a dark glass.  Even the most ordinary object would be obscured and be strangely unrecognizable.  Yet this is the way we live right now.  The way we see God, ourselves, and everything around us, is like looking through a dark glass.  Our perceptions on right and wrong, values, dreams, achievements, fulfillment—all are skewed and darkened by the fallen state we live.

We might think we see clearly, but that’s only because we have ever always known what it is to see through a dark glass.  We don’t have the eyesight of Adam and Eve, who, when they were created in their sinless state, saw only good.  Our eyes are darkened with the horrors of the sin we have growing inside us, from the moment we are brought into this world.

I have to be really, really careful when I make value statements, judge between right and wrong, or give advice.  If it’s only from me, then I’m reporting through a glass darkly—and it’s pretty hopeless.

Every Christian in history has, at times, reported things through a glass darkly.  Augustine?  Yes.  Martin Luther? Yes.  John Wesley?  Yes.  Billy Graham?  Yes.  And on and on and on.  In fact, haters of Christianity love to point out inconsistencies and mistakes Christians have made.

“You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14, NLT)

If every Christian, confined to this life, will see through a glass darkly, what hope do we have that we can ever illuminate Truth to the world?  Jesus called us to be the light of the world–but how can we be a light if our own vision is fogged with the mess of sin?

The difference is who we are and what we know.  We are God’s light, purified by the blood of Christ Jesus, all our sins forgiven.  But what we know is limited not just by our mortality, but much more so by our sin nature.  In the sin nature comes a natural conforming to society.  That’s really unfortunate, because society is rarely focused on Christ.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2, NLT)

We are not called to simply dwell in God’s righteousness, we are called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  But how can we, when we are, in this body, tainted by our sin?

This is like asking, “Even if we are light, how can we be light?”  Light is light.  It does not have to seek to illuminate; it does.  By its nature, light reveals what would otherwise be hidden in the darkness.

We are given a new nature, a nature that does battle with our sin nature.  The new nature is gifted us by Christ.  It is God’s Spirit within us.  But . . how do I know when I am listening to the Spirit and not my sin nature?

There is a way.  And it isn’t seeing through a glass darkly.  It is through seeing clearly.  It doesn’t come through physical sight, or the sight of our own blind reasoning, but instead through the sight of a soul freed by Christ Jesus.  This sight is a gift of Christ to the believer, and is given through reading God’s Word.

Many lost people have read God’s Word and stayed lost.  Why?  Because the Word of God is not hypnotic or deterministic over our freedom to choose.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5, ESV)

The Bible says that Jesus is the Word, and we know that not everyone listened to Jesus.  In fact, most people rejected Him.  In the same way, reading the Bible isn’t equal with understanding its meaning, its reality.  For that to happen, we must be able to see God’s Word.  And we can’t see unless God gives us “soul vision”.

      “‘YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND;
         YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE;

FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL,
         WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR,
         AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES,
         OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES,
         HEAR WITH THEIR EARS,
         AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN,
         AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.'” (Matthew 13:14b-15, NASB)

It sounds complex, like a long chain of events must be in place before we can see rightly.  But, in actuality, the entire ability hinges on the gift of Christ.  That’s a gift given freely to anyone who asks.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, NIV)

If you truly want to find God, if you truly want to see clearly, God will make Himself known to you and give you sight.  That’s a big claim, but I didn’t make it.  God did.

But wait.  Haven’t there been all kinds of people who truly wanted to find God and see clearly and never did?

Not one.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13, NIV)

There have been plenty of people who wanted to show God they could find Him or show God they could see clearly, but there have been few who wanted God to show them.  This takes an openhanded acceptance and submission, something that most people simply aren’t willing to do.

When Christians submit before Jesus and read God’s Word, incredible things happen.  Scripture is central in the believer’s life.  Resolutions are nailed to doors.  The most vulnerable of people hear God’s Word and experience His love.  Seas of people cry out to Jesus.

And when Christians close their hands and revert back to using their own reasoning, the beliefs of culture over the beliefs of God’s holy Word. . bad things always happen.  Christians say things that aren’t true, behave inconsistent with their faith, inadvertently reject people hungry for Truth, and turn crowds away from the Gospel.

We all see through a glass darkly.  I see through a glass darkly.  But, praise Jesus, I don’t have to rely on what I see through my fallen nature and reasoning.

I can rely on what I see through His Spirit in His Word.

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24, ESV)

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Published in: on April 9, 2012 at 5:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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