Vision: Believing Is Seeing

This morning, God is challenging us in a huge way.  With this challenge, however, comes the opportunity for us to leave this place this morning completely free of so many burdens that heavily weigh us down such as bitterness, resentment, hurt, and hate.  With this challenge comes the opportunity for us leave this place this morning full of peace, confidence, assurance, hope and joy.

I have to warn you, though.  This opportunity comes at a cost.  God is willing to do these things and so much more, but it requires a sacrifice on our part – a trade.  It’s a great deal, though!  We have to allow God to be our vision.  We lay down the way that we currently see things and allow God to renew our sight.

The interesting thing about our vision is that the old cliché is simply untrue that “Seeing is Believing”.  Seeing isn’t believing.  Rather, believing is seeing.  However, our belief can be very easily manipulated by our sight.  This is why magicians and illusionists are so effective at what they do.

They know that we have preconceived beliefs about what we see – seeing is believing.  We see a wine bottle and believe it to be solid glass.  When they smash it flat with a linen and make it disappear, we wonder how it is possible.

They leverage the truth that believing is seeing and therefore create the illusion that seeing is believing.  They take what we believe to be true and deceive us by it.

Now we have technology that enables us to make pretty much anything look like anything, which takes this believing is seeing truth to a whole new level!  Now girls have dog ears and long tongues and talk like a Chipmunk all in real time.  Beauty filters can make an old chubby guy like me look like a hunk who talks in a deep, charming voice or like a grouchy, bald 90 year old.

Take movies for example.  Often the most amazing, heart-stopping scenes were filmed by an actor frolicking around in a giant green warehouse interacting with plastic lawn chairs, yoga balls, and other people dressed head-to-toe in skin-tight green outfits.  Then, computer-generated imagery is used to make it look breathtaking.  Without the CGI, it looks downright embarrassing and hilarious to watch the scenes acted out, not so heroic and courageous.

Now take this technology that can make anything look like anything and put it into the hands of everyone.  Then, give them a platform to personally broadcast to anyone in the world and allow them to personally interact one-on-one with any of those people. 

This is our reality.  Deceit is everywhere.  It’s probably in your hand or on your seat right now (your smartphone).  It breaks my heart to say that Christians can be the most gullible and easiest to bait and deceive with this technology, too.  After all, believing is seeing, but seeing can influence our believing.  People know this full well and take advantage of others because of it.

Imagine, if you could, living a single day of your life with all of your memory erased except for your own personal experiences.  Only your real-life interactions with other people and the world around you remain. 

Everything that you saw on social media, every blog, every news report, every third-person story you’ve been told, every TV show, every YouTube video, every movie, every book, everything that you did not experience first-hand is wiped away.  Stop and imagine how that one day in your life would be.

You would be a radically different person.

Our personal beliefs are shaped and formed by so much more than our firsthand experiences.  There is so much truth behind that old children’s hymn, “Be careful little eyes what you see.”  God is challenging us this morning to see with His eyes – to understand from His perspective – to walk forward in life in His vision.

Our vision has been a weakness from the very beginning.  From day one, God created the Heavens and the Earth over the course of six days.  On each of those days, He did what and then said, “It is good.”?  He SAW.

Shortly after the serpent had a visit with Eve,

Genesis 3:4-7

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Mankind chose to sin against God because of their vision.  Now when we talk about vision and seeing this morning, we’re not really talking about our literal eyesight.  Consider what we just read here.  Did Adam and Eve have clothes on that disintegrated the moment that they ate the fruit?  Of course not, they had been naked from the beginning.

Their eyes were opened, but it wasn’t their literal eyesight that was changed at all.  It was their perspective, the way that the viewed themselves, God, and the world around them that changed.  Before eating the fruit they were naked and they didn’t care at all.  After eating the fruit, their perspective was changed and they then apparently felt ashamed and uncomfortable around each other naked and hid from God.

It isn’t really our literal eyesight that needs to be transformed by God, but our world view.  It is our perspective and the way that we view ourselves, God, others, and the rest of creation that needs to be changed by God.  We must see all these things not from our own eyes, but from God’s perspective.

Jesus said:

Matthew 6:22-23

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Our vision is so critical to our lives!  Our live is made up far less of our circumstances and far more our perspective and attitude towards them.  We aren’t responsible for what happens to us in life, but we are responsible for our response to what happens to us.  This response is a direct result of our vision.

Our vision guides our hearts and the rest of our lives flow from our hearts.  This is why Jesus warned that if we look at someone with our eyes in lust, we have already committed adultery with them in our hearts.  We must set our vision like flint following God in obedience like Isaiah committed to do or we’ll be easily lead astray. 

Much like driving a car or motorcycle or even running, where we look is where we’ll go.  Where we choose to set our eyes and what we allow to shape our perspectives will determine our destination.  If we don’t place God in that controlling position, we are headed down the wrong path and eventually toward a wreck and away from an abundant life!

Moses warned God’s people out of love and concern for them following the mighty miracles of God’s deliverance:

Deuteronomy 4:9

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

It’s a disappointing reality, but I’ve experienced this in my own life. 

God can do something so miraculous that leaves us in awe of Him and so passionately in love with Him in that moment.  Shortly afterwards in life, you forget that mighty act of God.  Our hearts are hardened by the sinful world around us and our perspective becomes jaded leaving our worship of God just going through the motions and apathetic. 

We lose our vision. 

When Jesus opened the blind eyes, it was a miracle that reached far greater than just those who physically had no eyesight.  He is still restoring the sight of blind folks like you and I today!  Think about it.  If a simple, sinful act of eating forbidden fruit can open our eyes to see from a different perspective and change our lives, how much greater can our perspective be changed by seeing through God’s eyes by the Holy Spirit within us?

Believing is seeing!

If I believe that Billy is a good for nothing bum, everything that I see him do will reinforce that belief.  If I believe that all democrats are evil, everything that I see a democrat do will reinforce that belief.  If I believe that God does not exist, everything that I see will reinforce that belief. 

If I believe that God is a merciful, patient, forgiving God who doesn’t want anyone to perish, but for all to receive eternal life, I should be looking at others that way.  If I believe that no one is too far gone for God’s grace to do a mighty work, I should be looking at others that way.

If I believe that Jesus died on the cross to make salvation possible for every single person forgiving and serving the needs of even those who nailed Him to it and spit in His face and called Him names and stripped Him nude and scourged the flesh off of His bones and mocked Him, I should live my life that way, too.

In John 6, Jesus feeds 5,000 men not including women and children.  Then, those same people asked Jesus for a sign so that they might see and believe.  Jesus told them that they had seen and they still didn’t believe.  The, of course, began to grumble and complain.  Seeing is not believing, believing is seeing.

God warned about it in the Old Testament through Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Job, Jeremiah and Jesus and Paul in the New Testament would teach to those who had “eyes to see.”  Elijah prayed that Elisha would have eyes to see into the Heavenly realm their true reality when he was overwhelmed by life.  There are warnings from cover to cover against those who are wise in their own eyes or clever in their own sight. 

We need our brothers and sisters in Christ not to puff us up according to our own perspective of ourselves, but to love us enough to point out the things that we are too nearsighted to see in ourselves so that God might be able to continue to do a work making us into His new creation!  We must have eyes to see things from God’s perspective!

When we look at the world around us through the world’s eyes, we see division, hate, strife, wickedness, greed, and need.  When we look at the world around us through God’s eyes, we see opportunities to bring unity, love, rest, goodness, and generosity.  We see a world that needs the hope and good news that we are carriers of and responsible to deliver. 

How patient would we be with our mail carrier if they were given our mail, but then held onto it until the right opportunity presented itself, like if we met them at the box just as they drove by?  You possess something far more valuable than a Harbor Freight catalog or cell phone bill!  Deliver that good news, don’t hang onto it in waiting!

Proverbs warns that a person without vision casts of restraint and perishes.  A person with no vision for who they are, what their purpose is, or where they are heading is not living, they are dying.  God wants us to see ourselves, our purpose, and our destiny through His eyes so that we might truly live!

During the time of judges, everyone did what was right in their own eyes.  It lead to chaos and shortly after, the nation’s destruction.  It is so critical for our lives not to live by what we think is right, but to look to our Creator’s guidance for what is truly right.

We are a prophetic people.  We get to see not only the facts and the realities around us, but also the truth of God and the potential all around us.  We don’t see and believe, we believe and see!  We believe, therefore we see. 

We first see the facts from the world’s view.  Then, we see with eyes of faith.  Since we see with our faith bifocals, we see the facts nearsightedly, but we also see God’s truth farsightedly.  Therefore, when we talk, we speak God’s truth over those facts.  Then, we see God’s truth become the facts!

We see from God’s perspective who according to Romans 4:17 speaks to things that are not as if though they were.  Some translations say that we believe in God who makes something out of nothing.  Others say that God calls things which do not exist as if though they did.

Believing is seeing.

Our blind eyes have been opened and so we see the world in the horrific state that it is in nearsightedly.  However, we also see the world from God’s eyes farsightedly.  Let’s be honest, the farsighted see better things!

We can see the good in tragedy. 

We can see the hope in darkness. 

We can see the healing in sickness. 

We can see the life in death. 

We can see the freedom in bondage.

We can see the comfort in mourning.

We can see the abundance in need.

If you look around and all that you see are evil, wicked people and perversity and dishonesty and hate and lack and attempts to shut you up or steal away from you, get those bifocals on!  When we start also seeing what God sees, our lives become full of peace and assurance and confidence and joy. 

Get into God’s word, get into God’s presence, pray in the Spirit, get those bifocals on so that you can start believing God for greater things, then start seeing things from His perspective, then start speaking to those things, and see the God of miracles at work!  Believing is seeing!

Peter wrote a few letters for this very purpose – to give us vision!

2 Peter 3:1

My dear friends, this is now the second time I’ve written to you, both letters reminders to hold your minds in a state of undistracted attention (MSG), to stimulate you to wholesome thinking (NIV), and to refresh your memory (NLT).

In this crazy world, turn your eyes to God and keep your eyes fixed on Christ.  Keep your farsighted, prophetic vision on and speak of God’s truth to trump the facts.  Allow God to show you things from His perspective so that you might have the peace, hope, confidence, assurance, and joy that await you!