Monday, April 05, 2010

Believing is Seeing

Yesterday was Easter Sunday. As a Church, we celebrate the Resurrection of our Beloved Lord Jesus. It is a time of celebration and remembrance of how Jesus overcome death. It is symbolic of Jesus proving that what He has said, He will do. In my regular Sunday Bible gathering, we have a good discussion surrounding the sermon topic: "The Road to Easter." I list the five key ideas outlined in the sermon:

1) Jesus Makes Sense of Things;

2) Jesus Waits for the Invite;

3) Jesus is Present in the everyday;

4) Jesus Needs to be shared;

5) Jesus Brings Hope to the Hopeless.

As I probe the group with questions about how the disciples felt during the moments right up to the resurrection, there are common feelings of disappointment and sadness. The fifth point about Jesus bringing hope to the hopeless comes as very comforting. The first point about 'making sense' encourages us to keep feeding upon the Word of God, and wait for the Spirit to illumine its truths according to God's perfect timing. I talk about Jesus meeting us at our respective points and phases in life. As I recall the sharing, some comment that it is not possible for us to even understand the mood of the disciples at that time. I agree.  Others talk about the will of God, and about God journeying with us in our ups and downs. I remind them that asking to know God's will is a two-pronged request: to know as well as the strength to obey.
Spiritual Eyesight 
One particular insight was particularly interesting for me. It is about spiritual eyesight. Our Christian lives ought to be more of "Believing is Seeing," rather than "Seeing is Believing."

As I think about this insight, I cannot agree more. Faith is our spiritual eyesight. Faith marks the uniqueness of our journey. Faith is believing first, question later. For the Christian, we use faith to see the world with new eyes. Like the writer of Hebrews who say:

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for." (Hebrews 11:1-2)

I remember CS Lewis's words about 'believing is seeing.'

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

(C.S. Lewis, "Is Theology Poetry?" in The Weight of Glory and other Addresses, New York: Harper Collins publishers, 1980, p140)

By faith, we learn to see everything else. In fact, one way in which we can understand believing-is-seeing, is to ask what is the other alternative. What if there is no Jesus? What if there is no Resurrection? What if there is nothing we can believe in? What if we can only believe when we see with our own eyes?

Then the alternative is far more depressing. It is like saying that because I do not see with my own eyes how I was born, I deny that my parents are my true parents. It is like saying that because I do not see how milk is produced, I do not believe that the process is taint-free. If I do not see with my own eyes, that my friends do exactly what they promised to do, I do not believe them. These alternatives signals the beginning of suspicion, ending with a distrust of everything and everyone I see. These alternatives are worse, preferring to see the worst in people instead of learning to give others the benefit of the doubt. It is like saying one is guilty until proven innocent. Living in a world of suspicion kills relationships. Faith is less an intellectual debate but an attitude of trust.

Dealing with Moods that Fluctuates
Another of Lewis's understanding of faith is also worth reflecting upon.

"Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable; but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods 'where they get off,' you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habits of Faith." (CS Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Bingo! Lewis hits the mark. Faith is not simply connecting the intellect with Truth. It connects the whole person to embrace the Truth, to see God for Who God is. Knowing that our limited eyesight can only see certain aspects of Truth, we need to let Faith guide our eyes the rest of the way. It is in moments of utter weakness and full awareness of our limited capabilities that Faith helps us appreciate the ultimate Strength and perfect understanding of God. Such attempts are never the tendencies of the natural mind. Our minds are too fallible. Our hearts are too fickle. Our souls are too fragile. None of us has moods that remain on a spiritual high all the time. Neither can we bemoan our lows constantly. If you are like me, our normal moods reflect a more up and down swing. Yet, believing-is-seeing does a remarkable job in steering our ship through waters of all conditions. It maintains. It directs. It stabilizes.

In a world that prefers to see before believing, let us who profess faith in Christ, adopt believing-is-seeing. Through suspicion, we put our ownselves on the throne. Through faith, we let Christ take the throne.


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