Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ever Seeing But Never Perceiving

It can seem a strange thing that the love of God is so obvious to you but unseen by your neighbour. It can even get frustrating when you are telling someone about Jesus and they can't see the truth as clearly as you see it. Why can't the whole world see what we see? Why can't they see the perfect and wonderful plan of our Father to rescue us from the mess we created; the mess that has sentenced us to death? The reason is pretty basic: because they do not want to see.

After Jesus told the parable about the different types of soil and the seed his disciples asked him why he was telling the truths of the Kingdom in parables. Jesus replied with a very interesting statement:

“Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them." (Matthew 13:11)

With this statement I believe the "them" Jesus was referring to were the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and anyone else who was too religious to see what the Father was doing.Religion comes in many different forms but it all closes the mind. Today we have the religion of self, the religion of science, the religion of technology, the religion of education and so on. All these people usually point their fingers at the problems religion has caused throughout history without realizing that they themselves have become religiously minded. They are closed in their beliefs and are not willing to even consider what Jesus has offered to God's creation.

This is a spiritual truth of the Kingdom, that when we turn our heart to seeking the truth we will find it; when we turn ourselves to seeking God's face we will see him. It is what he promised his people, that when they turned away from their rebellion and sought him they would find him again and he would then be able to rescue them:

... if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  (2 Chronicles 7:14)  

We see the mind of our God through the prophet Hosea:

"For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
   like a great lion to Judah.
I will tear them to pieces and go away;
   I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them.
Then I will return to my lair
   until they have borne their guilt
   and seek my face—
in their misery
   they will earnestly seek me.”
(Hosea 5:14-15)

For those unfamiliar with how much we are loved by our Father, this can sound very harsh. However, it is only in earnest seeking that we are able to discover and appreciate how much he loves us. What depth of love does it require to sacrifice your most precious son to be reconciled to your enemies? This is the same love that will allow us to face hardship and misery until we let go of our stubbornness and rebellion so we can see and experience this love. As long as we remain closed and unteachable we cannot see God. It is often only through the process of being stripped of everything we have placed our faith in, everything we have based our life on, that we are able to see the truth and Jesus suddenly becomes very real to us. God does not send the misery; in a fallen world we are already swimming in it.

Maybe you can understand it better from a human term we use to describe this process, "He has to hit bottom before he will start looking up".

The reason the disciples were open to these teachings on the Kingdom is because they stepped out in faith when Jesus called them. They took that step of faith when the Master said, "Come, follow me". It was because of this first act of faith that their hearts were receptive to what Jesus would reveal to them. Perhaps this is the reason he chose fishermen and the social outcasts like tax collectors, because their minds were not closed by thinking too highly of themselves. Perhaps this is the reason why the Church seems to be so powerless today, because we have reached a place of acceptability and respect. We accept the appearance of godliness without the power because we are too "educated" to dabble in such "nonsense". Men of reason can argue the theology but refuse the power of the living God.

We are such a foolish people and yet we think we are so much better than the world. We are like dirty children standing in the bathroom where there is a bath, looking out and ridiculing the dirty children outside of the bathroom. Just because we are in the bathroom with the bath does not mean we actually got into the bath. We are still just as dirty as those outside of the room. Attending church and going to all the activities is not going to help us see God any better. We have to get into the bath. We have to seek him ourselves. We have to step out in faith and seek his face and in seeking him accept everything from him. We are fools to think we can pick and choose what we believe and what we don't. Jesus said it is all or nothing.

Listen to what Jesus said:

Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:
   “Though seeing, they do not see;
   though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
   “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
   you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.  

For this people’s heart has become calloused;
   they hardly hear with their ears,

   and they have closed their eyes.

Otherwise they might see with their eyes,

   hear with their ears,

   understand with their hearts

and turn, and I would heal them.’ (Matthew 13:12-15)

We have to empty ourselves of self, of our opinions, of our understanding in order to see the living God Almighty. We must turn away from our "calloused hearts", our rebellion, in order to finally see what has been so obvious to so many people. We walk around with a blindfold and deny what is right in front of us. It doesn't matter if you go to church, if you are trying to see the god of your own choosing then you will never see the LORD God Almighty. Today is a good day to ask yourself if you "hardly hear" with your ears and if you are walking through life with your eyes closed. If God is not real, vibrant, present every day in your life then you may have a problem. If you are not prepared to see the impossible, to be part of the impossible then I fear you have yet to meet Jesus. Seek him today while he can still be found. Trust and obey, it is the only way to walk with the Spirit of the Living God. Stop limiting our God with your limitations and allow him to be God in you, through you and all around you.

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