2 Corinthians 4:16–18 (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.
Luke 11:34–36 (NKJV)
34 The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.”
There are many ways of looking at something, or someone. just as there are different ways of ‘seeing’. The English language has terms like “gaze, stare, peep, glance, peek, gape, gawk” to describe some of these differences. Greek also has different terms for ‘looking and seeing” that to one degree or another parallel English counterparts
The word ‘look’ Paul uses in his Corinthian letter (2 Cor. 4:18) is from the same root word spoken by Jesus in Luke 11:35, one of the verses upon which this series is based. The NKJV translates σκοπέω “Therefore take heed…” but the NASB has a better rendering: “Then watch out…” (or, put another way, “look out”) which more closely corresponds to σκοπέω used here as a warning.
The verses quoted above show a connection between ‘seeing’ and ‘looking’ and Paul gives us one answer to the question posed in the first blog, namely what sort of things we are to be looking at. Being filled with light is accomplished by “not looking at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen…” because the “the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal”. (2 Cor. 4:18 NASB)
So, we are to look at what can’t be seen and the more we look the more we see. This apparent contradiction is in fact the way things really are and to those outside the faith appear as sheer lunacy. But all Christians know it’s true: we really can see unseen things when we look at things properly.
Now, some ideas to note about this. First, from Paul and Peter we learn that this sort of looking and seeing has to do with living the Christian life in the midst of adversity and preaching the Gospel to the unsaved. Second, this kind of looking is a fixation, a staring at, and not just a casual or occasional glance; i.e. what ‘catches our eye’ remains the focal point. Third, this sort of looking is possible only by means of faith. (Heb. 11:3) Fourth, we must become convinced that what we look at in the natural course of life will pass away and, even now, is being replaced by “an eternal weight of glory”.
This phrase “eternal weight of glory” is at the very least profound and is meant to awaken our consciousness to what IS the case about the temporal/temporary Christian life, not what we might suppose it to be. The phrase “eternal weight of glory” is meant to show the sheer substantiality of what is really real as opposed to what is only fleeting; in Paul’s case suffering for the Gospel, and with Peter, a “proof” of our faith accompanied by inexpressible joy in the midst of temporary adversity that comes with living an authentic Christian life. (1 Peter 1:7-8)
In short, when we look at the right things and thereby see clearly we are changed, illuminated, ‘filled with light’ and become light shining in the spiritual darkness that is the kosmos under the dominion of sin and Satan. This is at least part of what Jesus meant in Luke 11:33. Furthermore, when we look properly (in this case, at the unseen) and see things the way they really are the more substantial and ‘weighty’ we become. While our natural condition is fleeting, fragile, almost ghostlike, here today gone and tomorrow, Paul says we are being renewed day by day gaining spiritual weight (which he says is glorious) over and against our inherent weakness as fleshly beings.
These words of Paul call for further attention and will be the subject of our next installment.
© W.G. Ryzek 2013