Trusting in the Invisible

If we are going to grow in life, it’s going to require faith, or “trusting in the invisible.” For most of our lives, we only operate on the visible plane. We respond to what we immediately see or touch, we regurgitate the things we already know, constantly affirming and strengthening the things we already believe and know about.

In a conversation we mostly focus on what we ourselves are saying, and when we look at another person we think our own thoughts about them, label them and mind very little what they might have to say about themselves. And when we imagine God or the lack of a God, we imagine him as we would have him be, in ways that agree with our own ideas and beliefs. We are constantly just self-perpetuating, going round in a circle and never really getting anywhere.

Anything new is invisible to us. God is invisible. The hearts, the thoughts and feelings and motivations of others are invisible to us really. We see only what we imagine them to be. So if we don’t trust in the invisible and look past ourselves to try and truly listen for once, we will never get anywhere and learn nothing.
Some of the most painful experiences for humans are invisible to all those around them. I’m talking about mental health. If we see someone with a broken leg, then this is quite credible in our eyes, but it’s much harder to take mental health seriously. We don’t see what another person is experiencing in their inner world, we don’t know the battle they are facing, so our own judgments about that person’s condition are far, far from adequate.

It’s going to require something more of us, to put ourselves aside for once, and to listen to what other people have to say, in their own words, giving them the benefit of the doubt, hearing it from their perspective with no judgments of our own. We’ve been wise in our own eyes for too long, and listened to only ourselves for too long.

And when it comes to God, what does he have to say about himself? Not what we think he is or should be, but what he actually says about himself. Do we really want to know? Or does living in our own fantasies seem easier, feel safer? It isn’t.

Whoever told us that we were the most reliable person to depend on? Whoever told us that we were the most wise, that we should listen only to ourselves? Whoever told us we were qualified to make it all up, to judge everything? Whoever made us the creator and the judge of all? When did we become God in our own eyes?

And when are we going to venture out into the unknown again, into the invisible? When are we going to listen, really listen to those around us and God? It’s time for us to stop pushing our own limited perceptions on everyone and everything around us, and it’s time to start taking in new information again, to come out of our self-made cells and into the sunshine.

Christ is Contagious!

“When he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.”
1 John 2:2

There is something about seeing Christ, that we begin to reflect him. To get close to God is to become more like him. His holiness is contagious. It’s in his presence that we are transformed.

In the Bible, morality and doing the right thing are understood as ‘fruits’. This means that we do not act rightly in order to earn our way into heaven. Right actions are fruit. In other words, they are ‘the result of’ a relationship with Christ. As we are spending time with the Lord, we are changed and those around us will notice this. It is usually not an instant change but is a lifelong journey. As Justin Welby says, “it’s process, not event.”

“Whoever does not love does not know God.”
1 John 4:8

God’s command is that we love others. We do not love others so we can earn God’s approval, rather our love for others is a fruit of our relationship with Christ. When we are close to him, we become like him. He rubs off on us. He is contagious. Walking in love, doing the right thing, these are evidences that we know Christ, because those who spend time with Christ become like him.

In the Old Testament, if people were unclean they could not come into the holy presence of God without being destroyed, and they had to undergo many rituals in order to become clean and get close to Him. In fact, their uncleanness was contagious, so they had to be careful that what was unclean did not come into contact with what was clean, as not to contaminate it.

“Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.'”
Isaiah 6:6-7

However, here we see in Isaiah this holy piece of coal from the altar, which had the reverse effect. It was something holy coming into contact with something impure, and instead of being contaminated by what was impure, the coal made holy what it touched. This was to foreshadow the One who was to come, who would make all holy by His touch.

We see this in the ministry of Jesus Christ. The teachers of the time would not touch the unclean, such as those who were diseased, for fear that their uncleanness would spread to them. However, Jesus turned this on its head, by reaching out and touching the unclean and healing them. Like the coal, whatever Jesus touched he made holy.

Even today, when we spend time with Him, in prayer and worship and learning from his word, we are being made holy in his presence, by his Holy Spirit. It’s not about us trying to be perfect by our own strength, it’s about having a relationship with Jesus. In his presence, we cannot help but be changed.