Summary: One has not really begun to live until he begins to look, not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for these alone are the things that last forever.
A young sportsman just back from a hunting trip in India was criticizing
the efforts of the missionaries there. He said that in all the months he was there
he never saw any good they were doing. It was all a useless waste of money and
effort. A returned missionary overheard him and asked him a question: “While
you were in India did you see any of those lions and tigers we hear so much
about?” He responded, “Indeed I did. I saw many of them.” The missionary
then added, “I spent about 7 years in India but in all that time I never saw any
lions or tigers, but I saw much important work being done by the
The point is clear, men see what they are looking for. There is
much even on the level of the visible that men miss because they have no eye for
it. Their interests capture their vision and monopolize it, and this blinds them
to the reality of all that lies beyond the narrow realm of self-interest. Lichtze,
the Chinese philosopher, told of a man who went into a shop that
sold gold. He grabbed some and ran. The police easily arrested him and asked
him how he could be so foolish as to try and rob in broad daylight before all of
those people. The thief replied, “When I reached for the gold, I saw only gold, I
didn’t see any people.” His greed for gold blinded him to the reality of the
visible world that ordinarily would have prevented such folly.
If men can be blind even to the visible world, then it is no cause for wonder
that they cannot see the invisible. It would seem by the very definition of the
word invisible that it would be impossible for anyone to see it. But Paul speaks
of looking at the unseen and in Heb. 11:27 we read that Moses endured “…as
seeing him who is invisible.” In Rom. 1:20 Paul says the invisible nature of God
has been clearly revealed in the things he has made. Paul is again in the realm
of paradox. How can we see the invisible? It means that we see it by means of
the visible, which we can see, but we see behind the visible to the invisible cause
for it to be. It is being aware of the more than the visible.
The first thing we need to do is recognize the reality of the invisible. This
should not be hard in a day in which even science is preoccupied with the
unseen. Atoms, forces, waves, and rays innumerable are invisible, but are the
tools science works with every day. Even materialists recognize that the
greatest powers man knows of are invisible. Behind visible phenomena are
invisible forces. It is the unseen magnetic pole that controls the compass needle.
Invisible wind forces can cause planes to crash even though nobody can see
them coming. We can see acts of good and evil, but we cannot see the invisible
forces and motives behind them. It is the ability to grasp the reality of the
unseen forces behind history that enables the Christian to enter into the
purpose of God for history.
Man has the capacity of dual drive in the motor of his mind. He can chug
along on the road of life in low gear and see only the reality of the ruts, mud,
detours, and dead ends, or he can, by the grace of God, shift into high and glide
down the superhighway of the spiritual with all of its fuel stations of faith,
motels of meaning, and visions of eternal values. Those who receive Jesus as
Savior can travel along sky line drive and catch glimpses of the city of God.
Now this may sound like unrealistic mysticism of no practical value. We need
bread and butter food for our souls and not fancy cotton candy visions spun
out of a hyper-active imagination. This would be a valid objection if all of
reality was on the level of the visible, but since the Bible teaches that the
majority of reality is on the level of the invisible, it will be my challenge to show
that nothing is more relevant and practical than the ability to see the invisible.
It is the key to the effective Christian life to be able to see the invisible. It is
the very essence of worship. Herman Hagedorn wrote,
Lift up the curtain: For an hour lift up
The veil that hold’s you prisoners in this world
Of coins and wines and motor-horns, this world
Of figures and of men who trust in facts;
This pitiable, hypocritic world
Where men with blinkered eyes and hobbled feet
Grope down a narrow gorge and call it life.