Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Real and the Unseen

Once upon a time I was a Cub Scout. I never had the patience to learn how to tie a necktie or earn many of the other badges, so I didn’t get very far. I don’t remember a whole lot other than the camping, popcorn sales, and pinewood derbies. But I do remember one time walking through town with my Pack with the assignment to look around and identify what was “created by God” versus what was “made by man”. The example I most remember was a telephone pole, made by man out of the wood created by God. We’d look at buildings and come to the same conclusion of stone and mortar forming man-made structures. And those would contrast with the grass of a lawn (planted by man, not natural habitat) or the river running through town.

"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)

A.W. Tozer writes in Chapter 4 of The Pursuit of God that “for millions of Christians… God is no more real than He is to the non-Christian.” (pg 37) He goes on to describe how human nature defines what is “real” by what we perceive through our five senses while dismissing what can be perceived spiritually as imaginary. Yet the tree, the river, the stone were not created by man and those things can be touched and seen. One could argue that science can explain the placement of a stone, the path of a river, and the home of a tree in opposition to the notion that what is unseen is the cause.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

But science can also explain the presence of an atom, a proton, a quark, a boson which cannot be seen. So are these scientific discoveries “real” in the same sense as a tree? The scientist argues that the effects of these unseen particles can be observed and measured. But at the same time can not a Christian make the same argument about the effects and influences of God working in and around their life? Of course the difference is objective versus subjective. But once upon a time the smallest particle was considered to be a grain of sand and there was no subjective argument. Then it was impossible to consider anything smaller than an electron. We should be careful to draw a line in the quark (see what I did there?) as definitive, as the final answer with nothing left to discover. We would be foolish to limit our definition of what is real to only that which we can see.

Consider the scriptures above: God’s invisible qualities… have clearly been seen… faith is… certain of what we do not see. How easily we dismiss the spiritual all around us just because we cannot see it. And as Tozer rightly notes, this arrogance prevents us from truly knowing God. Yet to know God, all we have to do is look around!

“For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.”
(Psalm 95:3-5)

Do not close your eyes to what God has revealed through his creation. Do not close your ears to what God speaks to you through his Word. “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord!”

 This blog is part of a book club reading The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. Please join the discussion here and at our hosts, Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter. Need a copy of the book? You can get it for free on Kindle.


jasonS said...

I think many are looking for the evidence that God is at work in our lives. So many have relegated God to an aloof or benevolent dictator, but He exerts both His power and influence in those lives that press in to the experience of Him and choose to step out in faith.

I can't really explain it, but your post was like a deep breath as I read. Good stuff. Thank you, Frank.

Sarah Salter said...

Frank, there's a scripture I love, that the Spirit brings back to my mind quite often, that I was hearing in my head as I was reading your post. It goes like this: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, neither has it ever entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed it by his Spirit..."

Keep looking for Him. He's there. And when we open our Spirit eyes, we will see Him.

Fatha Frank said...

@Jason, I think (because I do it too) most people don't "see" God working because we're looking for the big and dramatic miracle/voice from heaven experience. Those are few and far between, even in the Bible!

@Sarah, if we were a comedy troupe, you'd be the perfect setup. As I was reading this chapter, what I really wanted to do is write an analogy of our physical senses to our spiritual ones. Obviously that wasn't this post. Hopefully I can hash it out for next time.

Thanks, both, for commenting!