Friday, March 31, 2017

Ministry Remnants: Apostle Paul tells us what to see

What do you look at? Do you regularly look at what is invisible? How would you? Or do you spend your time looking at what can be seen, the things for which eyes are obviously made?

In II Corinthians 4:18 Paul speaks in paradox, easily missed by those too familiar with the passage. "Look at what you can not see," he says. Huh? How do you see what cannot be seen? And further he says "Do NOT look at what CAN be seen."

I love the apostle Paul and believe he speaks the Word of God and so I listen and learn. Of course we know he speaks of the life of faith, the only life which leads to the eternal, the only path by which we can know God. As we see in a later Epistle, when we come to God we must "believe that He is and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him." And in that same letter we read that faith is itself the evidence of what we cannot see.

What am I looking at? Paul says quit looking at the stuff you can see because it is passing away! Ever reasonable, Paul does not disappoint. Why would we set our sights on passing things? Because they will not last. We long for that which is forever, even for the eternal - whatever always has been and always will be.

Indeed we do. One of the radio commercials here in Alaska revels in the enduring beauty of Bristol Bay and the Native Corporation that shepherds it. The closing lines of the ad say, "We're not going anywhere. We'll always be, in a place that's always been."
Bristol Bay Landscape

This ads taps the deepest longings of the heart. It also betrays what the heart knows: contrary to those deepest longings, we will someday be dead, unable to embrace the reality for which we painfully long.

Here the Scripture steps in and gives hope. "Set your affections on things above." "Lay up treasures in heaven where they will not decay." "Look at the things which are not seen -- for those things, they last forever."

This is the life of faith, the life that invests in the eternal, the only answer for you and I who desperately long for something real, something that lasts. I think God uses most of life to teach us to set our sights on the unseen, for when we finally do see it -- to borrow Elliott's apt phrase -- we will be home "and know the place for the first time."

 Nothing which is of a perishable nature can be the chief good of a being that was made for eternity. (Quesnel, quoted by Adam Clark)

He has set eternity in our heart. 
(Ecc. 3:11)