Summary: Seeing is believing, but believing is also seeing; when we admit our spiritual blindness and believe in Jesus, He gives us the gift of sight.
Seeing Is Believing
Pastor Daryl’s youngest daughter Mandi, who just turned four, sometimes comes into my office during the week. One of her favorite games to play when she visits is Hide-and-Seek. But being so young, she plays it a little bit differently than older kids do. Normally the person who is “it” closes their eyes and counts while everyone else hides, and then they try to find them. Mandi plays it differently. She’ll say, “Close your eyes and count to ten while I hide in here,” pointing to an empty compartment in my desk. “Then you try to find me.” Okay. So I count to ten and then look around as though I don’t know where she is. Inevitably she’ll start shouting, “I’m in here, Mister Afan! I’m in here! Come find me!” But when I look down at her and say, “I found you!” she covers her eyes and protests, “Nuh uh! You can’t see me, Mister Afan! I’m hiding!”
To Mandi, that’s her reality. She can’t see me, so I can’t see her. She’s hiding, so I can’t find her. Funny enough, a lot of kids play Hide-and-Seek this way. Sometimes they’ll lie down on the floor with just their head sticking under the bed, and they think you can’t see them because they can’t see you. If darkness is their reality, then they assume it must be yours as well.
Adults are really not so different from that, are we? We tend to impose our perceptions onto other people. As we collect experiences every day, we sort them and file them according to our perception of reality. When I go to a Shorebirds game and see Sherman, the mascot, I know that he’s not actually a giant bird in a baseball uniform, because that’s what my understanding of reality tells me. My grasp on reality tells me this.
Every sight I see, every sound I hear, every idea that’s presented to me—I glance at each one and file it in my mind in its appropriate category. Each day’s experiences shape my reality, sometimes stretching it, sometimes constricting it, always adjusting it. But how do I know what is actually real? How can I be sure that what I believe is true?
Recently I read a quote by this guy who said: “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” Reality is that which, when you stop believing it, doesn’t go away. I can stop believing that the Twinkie is bad for me, but it will still make me jiggle in the middle. I can tell myself that the knuckle I caught in the door doesn’t hurt, but it still shoots sparks of pain up my finger. I can tell myself that it’s still necessary to use hair gel… When I stop believing these things, the reality is still there.
So how can I see clearly? I’ve discovered from reading the Bible and from the life stories of other people and myself that those who believe in Jesus are given the gift of sight. Those who believe in Jesus are given the gift of sight. People who believe in Him—more specifically, those who believe Him—are given the ability to see clearly. Seeing is believing—we do not believe because we see, but rather we see because we believe.
Turn with me in your Bibles to the Book of John, chapter 9, and let’s look together at the story of a man who learned this lesson in a startling way.
(1) John 9:1-11: The man born blind is given sight
Jesus is walking along with His disciples and they see this blind guy. Rather than asking, “Why is this guy blind?” they give Jesus two options. So what’s the answer? A or B? Jesus’ answer is C: none of the above. It seems to have never occurred to the disciples that the guy might be blind for reasons they didn’t know and couldn’t understand. But they had assumptions about the way God operates. Their limited vision gave them a limited reality, which in turn gave them a limited God.
Sometimes we miss God because we only look for Him within our own limited framework of understanding. Rather than looking for a God that is bigger than our reality, we try to squeeze Him into our narrow vision. That’s what the disciples did here.
Jesus told His friends that this guy was born blind “so the power of God could be seen in him.” Has it ever occurred to you that your most frustrating situations, your most agonizing pains, your darkest moments, might exist simply for the purpose of God’s power being seen in you? Just a thought.
Our assumptions about God and about reality can keep us from knowing and seeing God. That’s one reason so many people never come to see Him or know Him—He doesn’t fit their preconceived ideas, so they reject Him. But He’s still just as real, just as God.