My friend Larry Taylor was our supply preacher on Sunday morning. Larry always brings a unique perspective to a passage and wrings new truth out of familiar words. He did it again on Sunday as he preached from John 11 about the raising of Lazarus. I came away thinking about which comes first for a Christian—the seeing or the believing.
We have heard since we were children that “seeing is believing” but the introduction of digital photography, CGI, and Photoshop makes that a questionable statement. We now see things on the screen that are impossible or fantastic but they are there anyway. Even in actual events such as a traffic accident, witnesses often disagree on what took place. Each has his or her own perspective.
Larry suggested that perhaps believing more often precedes seeing (at least that is what I heard). We have to have a frame of reference in order to really understand the meaning of events. Many who saw Jesus, heard his teachings, and observed his miracles still rejected him. The raising of Lazarus led to belief by some but rejection by others.
How do we know God and see God’s work among us today? Most often we see God at work through the eyes of faith. In other words, as believers, we know what to look for. Is this subjective? Yes, it is, but we must realize that scientists often admit that they get what they are looking for. Quantum physicists discuss whether light is made up of particles or waves. Usually they get what they expect when doing observations.
There is a special blessing for those who see with the eyes of faith. At the end of John’s Gospel, Jesus is reported to have said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29, NIV)
Perhaps the impact of the statement is seen more clearly in The Message: “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”(John 20:29, The Message)
Seeing or believing? Which comes first in your life?