So…..What's the Point?

Musings from a Fellow Struggler

Archive for the month “November, 2013”

Hey Bub! Whaddaya Looking At? -Part 2

an old man looking at something

The teachings of Jesus we looked at in the last blog spoke of being filled with light or darkness depending on the condition of our eyes, whether healthy or diseased. This suggests there are two ways of seeing things, either in a healthy or an unhealthy way which, in turn, has a great deal to do with what we look at and seek after. The fact is what we look at affects us profoundly because the objects of our attention indicate the condition of our will to habitually see certain things.

Now, consider these two passages:

 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:3 NKJV

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16–18 NKJV)

These verses show us that, to the natural eye, nothing is what it appears to be; it is always far more or far less than we think. We simply don’t have the perceptual apparatus to see everything we’re looking at; something is always left out, or added depending on our predispositions. (See my blog “Running Into Trees”) Once we acknowledge our extraordinary limitations at seeing anything for what it really is then these verses make sense even though prima facie counter intuitive and seemingly irrational.

These passages are also foundational for learning to ‘see’ properly because they are ‘reality’ verses encompassing ontology, cosmology, epistemology and anthropology. That all things seen are made by things unseen (cosmology), that the visible is temporal while the unseen eternal (ontology), that we have both an inner and outer man, one visible the other not (anthropology), and that we understand all this by faith (epistemology) show the two dimensions that correspond to natural and spiritual ‘seeing’. By itself natural seeing is bound to fill us with darkness whereas spiritual seeing fills us with light. We need both to get around this side of heaven but only spiritual sight illuminates the way we must go.

At any rate, the point here is that faith opens our eyes to see what is really real and what we really are (2 Kings 6:15-17 is a great example). What ‘catches our eye’ now is wholly different from before; where once God was absent He now appears everywhere and we begin understanding that “in Him we live and move and have our being….” (Acts 17:28)

One axiomatic idea we learn from Hebrews 11:3 is the actuality and functionality of “the word of God”. By actuality I mean that the Word of God IS and by functionality I mean what His Word DOES, namely create. This has special significance to all of us whose outer man is daily perishing as Paul describes in his second Corinthian correspondence noted above. By looking at the unseen, which can only be done by faith, we know that at the same time we are perishing we are being renewed. This is what His Word says (its ‘isness’, it cannot be any other way) and what it does, namely re-create (renew) the inner man even though we ‘see’ the outer man disintegrating.

Of course, we know Paul isn’t speaking of just old age here but the effects on the physical/natural man through ministering the gospel without regard to what he calls “light affliction” which we know from other passages entailed floggings, stoning’s, shipwrecks, prison time, various and sundry beatings and the Lord only knows what else. The “eternal weight of glory” in contrast to the perishing natural body is what we see ‘when we look at what is ‘unseen’ which is one example of what Hebrews 11:3 suggests.

The word ‘look’ Paul uses is therefore worth considering and will occupy our next installment.

 © W.G. Ryzek 2013


Hey Bub! Whaddya Looking At?

an old man looking at something

Jesus talks about our eyes filling us with light or darkness (Luke 11:34-36) depending on their condition (diseased or healthy) and what captivates their attention (God or mammon Matt. 6:22-24). Furthermore, in the parallel passages of Matt. 5:14-15 and 6:22-23 a connection between being the ‘light of the world’ and being ‘filled with light’ can be made. These verses make the case that what we seek and what we look at express the condition of our spiritual lives and our effectiveness as witnesses to the Truth; i.e. whether we are filled with light or not.

Consider the saying “something caught my eye the other day”. This usually means that we weren’t looking at anything in particular and then suddenly focused on something specific. What that ‘something’ is reveals our alertness to, and interest in, certain things around us; i.e. what our eyes have been trained to ‘see’, desire to see and, depending on our eyesight, whether we see them clearly. Taking into account technological advances in the media (TV, radio, internet), I don’t think there has been a time in human history when idolatrous images with the sole purpose of ‘catching our eye’ and filling us with darkness are as ubiquitous as now. What’s more, the intensity of the imagery designed to ‘catch our eye’ is increasing and wearing us down to give into the most base and sinful compulsions of which we are capable; all things sexual is an example.

Popular TV shows and movies considered ‘innocent’ fun and ‘fantasy’ are really encouragements to engage in lifestyles contrary to the kingdom of heaven. And judging by the moral decay in the ‘real world’ these encouragements are wildly successful. Making matters worse, people are bombarded by the idolatrous images of money, power, influence, respect, security, notoriety, praise etc., especially through commercials, giving the impression they are the only worthwhile things to have. Of course, getting these things entails removing any competition which, in turn, contributes to further moral decay in the form of poverty and human degradation.

Even the Christians we read about in Paul’s letters were surrounded by idolatrous statues, carvings on buildings and, in a few places, even temple prostitutes parading around in plain sight; they got an ‘eyeful’ every day through their versions of the media. And things haven’t changed much since. There are now atheist congregations worshiping naturalism, empiricism, rationalism and moral relativism. They are 21st century versions of 1st century temples of idolatry and accepted by society with nary a blink of an eye, welcomed, in fact, by those calling themselves progressive and inclusive.

The point is that for this generation, like those before it, the battle lines between heaven and the world, between God and mammon, between light and darkness are clear to those who can really ‘see’. So what should we be looking at and what sort of things should we be seeking after that fill us with light? What follows is a series of blogs highlighting verses that teach us what to look at and what to seek so we might be “filled with light” thereby effectively resisting the darkness gripping our culture, our world and, sometimes, even ourselves.

 © W. G. Ryzek 2013

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