“Do you see things that aren’t there?”
I must admit that when this question was asked of me recently, I felt like a defendant being grilled by the prosecuting attorney. Seriously. It was a direct, very specific question, but there was trickery in the air, especially in this conversation (more on that below). It seemed like an impossible question for me to answer correctly. If I answered yes, then it might warrant a road trip to the psych ward at the nearest hospital. If I said no, then some might think I didn’t believe in the existence of the supernatural.
I paused as a look of confusion probably crossed my face, and replied “no.”
The question was repeated. “Do you see things that aren’t there?” My confusion deepened; my response, however, did not change.
As I reflect on this conversation, I still hold to my initial response. Let me explain.
The God Who IS There
I am borrowing this phrase from the self-explanatory title of a classic apologetic work by Francis A. Schaeffer that discusses the truth of Christianity in the face of a cultural worldview that puts man at the center of the universe rather than God; a worldview that offers little hope or humanity in the face of inescapable suffering and death, that which is the reality of the human condition. In the foreword of the book, Schaeffer is described as a man who had a “passion for the God who is there, a passion for truth, a compassion for people, a passion for relevant and honest communication, and a passion for Scripture.” As I read the foreword a year or so ago, I remember thinking I wanted to be remembered in a similar manner. This goal is what directs my steps.
Often, I think, so many of us fall into a belief system that manufactures a false version of God. We believe a one-dimensional view of who He is and perhaps focus on our favorite of His attributes that makes Him just like us, only slightly better. We might choose His friendship, but not His Lordship for our lives. Or we think of God as some vague, impersonal, benevolent “force” that brings good things into our lives.
We might rarely speak of or even acknowledge that there is also a dark force at work in this world (my experience is that people often get a little twitchy when you start speaking about the supernatural, whether in the heavenly realms, this world or hell). Maybe because it seems much easier and safer to choose to believe in a distant, uninvolved God who lets us do our thing, let alone actually believe there is also an enemy of our soul, seeking to destroy and separate us from God. He starts first by destroying the relationship we have with ourselves and each other. The sad truth? He doesn’t need to do very much other than ask a few questions to cast doubt on God’s character or the character of others. So very often, we then step in and do his work for him out of our own sinful natures.
Faith Is Not Blind
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
When I first started reading the Bible, and I came across this verse, I attributed it to the idea that I had picked up somewhere that “faith is blind.” Perhaps it is something I came to understand from my peer set, the culture or some feel good Hollywood movie. It was also admittedly, a laziness on my part. I have always believed in God, but did not make it a priority to understand and get to know His character as it is revealed in the Bible. The idea that faith is blind is false; this idea perhaps persists because many have just stopped seeking God (Romans 3:10-12). They may be afraid of what God might see if they find Him, or of what they might be asked to give up. The really good news is He already sees everything, and yet, He is still inviting you into relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.
As we accept the invitation, we come to understand that faith is not blind. In fact, this verse has nothing to do with blindness. It has more to do with the supernatural nature of the God who cannot be seen by human eyes (Exodus 33:18-20). It was written to strengthen and encourage a church in the face of adversity to fix their eyes on and place their hope in the only Person any of us can truly hope in: The God who is there, always has been and always will be.
Faith in the God Who Is There
True faith is a gift of God’s grace. This kind of faith seeks and sees everywhere the eternal God in Whom one’s trust and confidence has been placed. True faith seeks wisdom and understanding; it seeks knowledge of God’s character and action in history through the timeless, authoritative truths of the Bible. True faith responds to these truths. It helps us to accept ourselves where we are, but also understands that is not what God hopes for us. True faith transforms us through God’s grace.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
The confidence the Christian has in what he hopes for gives him assurance of the presence of what he cannot see on his own. And this hope is in Jesus Christ, the One who made the invisible God visible to the world in history. He entered our pain and suffering in a single act of mercy so that those who repent of their sin and place their faith in Him will not perish but will receive forgiveness and everlasting life.
The Christian’s faith is not blind. He simply chooses faithfulness to the God who is there, even in seasons when he cannot see, hear, or feel God’s presence. The Christian chooses to place his faith in the One who has proven faithful throughout history, and who will always prove faithful. This is where the confidence and assurance about what the Christian believes comes from.
If you have been a Christian for some time, ask yourself this: Is there an area of your life you have not fully entrusted to the Lord? What specifically is it that might be holding you back? Perhaps, it is time to seek His response in prayer.
If you are reading this because you want to learn more about the Christian faith, ask God in prayer to help you with your unbelief. Prayer is a simple conversation and is a great place to start speaking to the One who made you.
The God of the Bible is faithful and true. Trust me, this I know. He has proven faithful in thousands of moments of my life that I am aware of, and I trust His faithfulness- past, present and future- even when I am and will be again, completely unaware of it. It is this assurance of His faithfulness that gives me eyes to see what my vision cannot discern. It gives me a settled confidence and wholehearted trust in the God who is there.
Photo credit: shuang paul wang on istockphoto.com.
 Schaeffer, Francis A., The God Who Is There, 30th Anniversary Edition (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1998), Foreword written by James W. Sire.