January 12, 2012

Faith vs. Sight

Some things look better in the dark. The pictures in the brochures plus those who spend an evening in South Beach Miami rave about the colors and say it is so glamorous. Art deco interests me, so we drove over yesterday afternoon. Again, some things look better in the dark or at least not by sunlight. We were disappointed.

Light does not always make something look bad. If a person is attractive, sunlight or candlelight will not change that. If a building is constructed and kept in good shape, it will look as good or even better in full daylight as it appears in the dark or with subdued lighting.

The idea of walking by faith rather than sight has some parallels. That is, the object of faith is always the issue, not my ability to see or not. Whether I can see Jesus, or can see Jesus at work is not as important as who He is.

When I was a child, my father made me a Christmas gift. It was a total surprise. I’ve no idea when he worked on it, but even then, I realized this project had taken much time and was a gift of love. Did it matter that I could not see what he was doing? Of course not. The project did not depend on me seeing it happen, but on the loving man who made it happen.

Before Jesus was crucified, He told the disciples that He would rise again. After it happened and some of the disciples reported it to others, Thomas refused to believe it. He said that he had to see it for himself. His faith was in his own vision rather than in the One who made the promise to rise from the dead.
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:26–29)
The faith that honors Jesus Christ believes what He says, even when I cannot see any evidence that what He says is working out. This is vital. He tells me that I have new life in Him. When I mess up, if I look at my actions as evidence for His promise, I will despair. Of course new life produces a new way to live, but the reason that I believe in Jesus has to be based on His nature, character, words, and promises, not on my successes or failures. 
My new life happens because of Jesus, not because of what I do.

God continually asks me to walk by faith, not by sight. This is regarding my personal life in Christ, but it also affects my concept of who God is. For instance, the chaos that is visible in the world stands in contrast to the Word of God that tells me He is sovereign, in control, and will eventually judge the world and bring in righteousness and truth. If I walk by sight and look to events as evidence of God’s omnipotence, then faith has to take a back seat. However, when the light of faith shines on the chaos, God shows me what it truly is ­--- a decaying system that can only look good to those in the dark. 

Lord, more and more I realize how faith is tested by what is visible. When I was a new Christian, it seemed easy to see You or sense You at work. Now You are showing me that faith must not depend on what is visible and might even totally contrast what I see. You want me to believe in what You say, not in what I see. As that becomes an increasing challenge, Your Word and Your promises become even more precious. I’m glad that You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. I can rely on You because of who You are, and whether I’m surrounded by light, or whether all seems dark, You will always look good because You are good.

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