Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Walking by Faith, Not Sight

Reflections on 2 Cor. 5:7 ESV - "for we walk by faith, not by sight." 

In the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones must pass three booby traps in order to find the Holy Grail that will save his father's life.  One of these traps is a deep chasm which he must cross.  We see him here as he approaches the trap.


Unknown to Indiana Jones, a bridge stretched across the chasm though he could not see it because it blended in with the rocks on the other side.  His father had told him he had to believe the book that told him to walk across the empty chasm.  He took the step of faith into what appeared to be empty space and walked safely to the other side.  Similarly, Christians must walk by faith.  Walking by faith means that you trust God promises and live so that you will inherit them.  Walking by sight means that you believe only what you can see right now, and act in a way that satisfies present desires.  Here are some times you must choose to walk by faith rather than by sight.


Jesus said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21, NIV84).   Walking by faith means choosing a career in which you can please and glorify God. When you walk by faith, you store up treasures which cannot be destroyed in heaven.  Walking by sight means you will choose to make as much money as you can so you can have houses, cars, TV's, iPads, boats, and expensive clothes as soon as possible.  When you walk by sight, you store up earthly treasures that will perish.  Christians choose to walk by faith and store up heavenly treasures that will last for eternity. 


The writer of Hebrews says that Moses "chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward" (Hebrews 11:25-26, NIV84).  Walking by sight means that you choose to satisfy your desires as quickly as possible.  You get immediate thrills with wild partying, speeding, threatening others to get your way, intimidating others, and looking at pornography.  Sadly, those pleasures don't last very long and usually result in broken relationships, misery, and even death.  Walking by faith means that you refuse to participate in those sinful pleasures and seek God's eternal reward by doing what is right and good. 

Peer Pressure

Sometimes students will ridicule you and mistreat you because you will not join with them in sending sexually explicit messages or pictures, drinking, experimenting with drugs, stealing, or being disrespectful to authority.  If you walk by sight, you will give in so that the mistreatment and ridicule will stop.  You will join them in the evil that they are doing.  However, if you walk by faith, you will not give in but remain faithful to Jesus and obey him because the eternal glory you will experience is far greater than anything you may suffer in this life.  Paul said, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV84)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Believing the Unseen

Reflections on Hebrews 11:1

"To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see." (Hebrews 11:1, GNB)

Perhaps you've heard someone say, "I won't believe it unless I see it."  Nevertheless, they believe many things they have never seen and cannot see.  They cannot see the past, but they believe many things about the past.  They believe in George Washington even though they have never seen him.  They cannot see many things in the present, yet they believe them.  They believe that they have brains, though they have never seen them.  They cannot see the future, but they believe many things about the future. They believe that they will own a car when they grow up even though the car may not even be made yet.  They believe the sun will come up tomorrow, and their mother will make them go to school, but they have not yet seen it.  Actually, they have good reasons to believe most of those things even though they have not seen them.  They are not stupid. Similarly, Christians are not stupid for believing things they cannot see.  They have good reasons to believe them.


God is a spirit (John 4:24), so no one has ever seen him (1 John 4:12).  Nevertheless, we believe in God because "his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made" (Romans 1:20, ESV). We believe in him because "The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky displays his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1, NET). When we see what God does, we have good reason to believe in him just as we have good reason to believe in wind because we can see and feel what wind does.

People in the past

We also believe and are certain that Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, and Paul were real people who lived on this earth. We believe Jesus was a real person who lived on the earth even though none of us have seen him.  We believe he did because others saw him and wrote or told about what they saw.  Matthew became a follower of Jesus and wrote about what he saw and heard.  Peter was also a follower of Jesus who told about what he saw and heard.  Mark wrote what he learned from Peter.  Luke interviewed many people who had known Jesus, and wrote what he learned.  John was also a follower of Jesus, and he wrote a book about Jesus also.  We believe Jesus was a real person for the same reason people believe in George Washington - because people who saw him, talked to him, and touched him wrote about him.
When several people reported that they had seen Jesus after he rose from the dead, Thomas did not believe them.  He said, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it" (John 20:25, NIV84). Thomas finally did believe when Jesus actually appeared to him and showed him his wounds.  Then Jesus said to Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29, NIV84).  We believe and are sure that Jesus lived and rose again, not because we have seen him, but because we have heard what those who saw him said.
Promises about the future

Why do we believe that our parents will make us go to school tomorrow?  Because that is what they usually do.  Why do we believe them when they promise us something for our birthday?  Because our parents keep their promises to us.  Similarly, we believe the promises God and Jesus have made about the future.  We believe that Jesus will return to this earth, that he will raise the dead, and that he will judge all the people in the world, that he will send the wicked to a place of eternal punishment, and that he will take the righteous to live with him in a new heavens and a new earth. We have not seen any of these things, but we are sure of the things that we hope for because we have learned that God keeps his promises.