Seeing By Believing
The other day, while I was reading Steven Charleston's excellent collection of inspiration and wisdom entitled Ladder to the Light, I was struck by a phrase that he used to describe faith: Seeing by believing.
I have been thinking about Charleston's words for several days, and how they seem to fly in the face of how most of us Christian-types live and move in the world.
You see, most of us who claim to be Christian tend to ascribe to the notion that Seeing is believing when it comes to living out our faith. We look for evidence, we wait for signs and symbols on our own terms, and we will do whatever it takes to bend Scripture to do our bidding, and prove our points.
We do this despite what Jesus taught, and the New Testament writers affirmed over and again---that it is "belief" (or more accurately trust) in Jesus and the power of the Resurrection that opens our eyes to see.
The belief/trust that the writers of the New Testament espoused involves surrender, openness, humility, and ultimately an awareness of the work of the Spirit that is unencumbered by doctrines, dogma, rules, and regulations.
Far too many of us are unable or unwilling to truly see what God is doing in the world because we're too focused on what we've determined to be "right" theology that is grounded in the traditions and systems we've created.
And in so doing, we deny the power of God within us, and the difference the Resurrection makes for us and all of Creation. We play a zero-sum game with our faith where it's all or nothing when it comes to seeing in order to believe.
In other words, we've bought into a version of faith where we have to check the boxes, answer the big issue questions correctly, and essentially prove that we're a "good" Christian before we can be granted authority and agency.
But what we are really called to do is believe/trust that we'll be led by the Spirit to fulfill our God-given purpose, an act of surrender that can open our eyes in ways we never imagined.
Steven Charleston puts it like this:
We often sell ourselves short. We think we are not great leaders, that we have no special gifts, that we are too small to make much of an impact against such serious obstacles. But the more we trust in the Spirit, the more we trust in ourselves.
I know that this is a struggle for me. Try as I might, it is extremely hard to let go of the old "seeing is believing" way of living out my faith. I want God to show me proof and evidence before I am willing to move.
What God desires, though, is that I move without fully knowing where I'm going.
It's like God is saying, "Just start walking---the road will appear, the way will be made known, the signs will be there if you lift up your head, and step forward putting one foot in front of the other."
Are you willing to trust the Spirit of God today? Try letting go of your need to have all of the information, the proofs, the evidence that you think you need in order to follow Jesus.
Learn to trust/believe that Jesus is who he says he is, and that he will do what he promised to do when he said, "I will never leave you, or forsake you... I will be with you always."
Learn to trust in the power of Resurrection and that there is a new and better world springing up all around you.
Learn to let go of your will and way, and trust that even though you might not be able to see clearly at first, the more you trust, the more your eyes will be opened.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.