Be Salty

He was an old salt…

He uses some salty language…

Take it with a grain of salt…

There are several ways of using the word “salt” in various coloquial idioms of our day. Jesus, himself, added to these idioms, telling the disciples that they need to be salty:

Everyone will be salted with fire.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Mark 9:49-50

Jesus had just finished telling his disciples that they need to get rid of anything that causes them to sin. For example, if an eye or a hand causes them to sin, they should pluck it out or cut it off. I don’t think Jesus is being literal as he says these things, although he does tell the disciples that it would be be better to go into heaven maimed rather than go into hell with their full body.

But then he goes on to tell them that they will be salted with fire.

The disciples will be tested. They will be refined. This is the salt that they must have within themselves individually and amongst them as disciples of Christ. They must have been tested and refined. They must have lost all of the dross, all of those things that have come from our flesh instead of from the Spirit of God such that they are now living completely and entirely for Christ. In this way, they will have salt amongst themselves.

On the other hand, Jesus says that if they lose their saltiness, they are of no good whatsoever to God. Within the kingdom of God, they will not be worth anything. They will have just become like the people of the world. They will not be demonstrating anything within the kingdom. They will instead simply be just like everyone else. No salt, no refinement. Just like the world.

So Jesus says that we need to be salty. We need to be creatures of the kingdom of God. We need to be people who are set apart from the world. We need to be salty.


Some Say…

As Jesus and his disciples were moving through the villages of Caesarea Phillipi, Jesus asked his disciples who the people say that he is.

This is the question.

This is the question that has continued to reverberate through the centuries and through millenia. Who is Jesus?

This is the same question that the disciples asked. Who is this that even the wind and waves obey him?

This is the same question that the Pharisees asked one another. Who is this that forgives sins?

And now we have Jesus asking the disciples, who do the people say that I am?

The disciples aren’t sure what to say. There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer. Here is their response:

“Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

Mark 8:28

Why is there so much confusion? Jesus has actually been answering this question himself by revealing himself to the people. But still there is confusion. Why? Because Jesus is God, and we can’t begin to imagine that God himself would be here with us. Surely that isn’t possible, is it? And yet it is, and that is what Jesus wants his disciples to understand and live by – to believe.

At the same time, though, as we see in the disciples’ answer to Jesus’s question, there is a lot of confusion about who Jesus is. It struck me today, as I was reading this passage, that the answers are all from the past:

John the Baptist – John was the one who was to come before Jesus, to proclaim repentance and make straight the path for the Lord.

Elijah – Elijah was a prophet who was swept up into heaven without ever actually dying. Prophecy said that Elijah would return, so the people would say that Jesus is Elijah.

One of the prophets – There were many prophets that spoke to the people on God’s behalf. Moses also spoke of a Prophet who was to come to whom the people must listen, and this was another guess that we saw by the Pharisees when they questioned John the Baptist about who he was.

My point here is that the people were looking to the past, to what they knew, what they had read, and what they understood. But God isn’t just a God of the past, he is a God of the present, and a God of the future. He routinely does what the people do not expect, and often things that people have a hard time understanding. And that is exactly what is happening in this case. God has come to earth to be with his people, showing himself in the form of a man, and that man is Jesus.

Despite the fact that “some say…” this, or “others say” that, we need to continue to look to Jesus and understand who he showed himself to be. Jesus made the winds and waves obey him. The evil spirits obeyed him. He healed people of their sicknesses with nothing more than words. He fulfilled the prophecies of the one that would come. He forgave sins. And Jesus spoke and taught the people with authority…because he was the one who had authority. Jesus is God who has come in the flesh to reestablish his kingdom here on earth, purchasing the people out of the kingdom darkness to come into his kingdom. May we believe and worship him!


What the kingdom of God is like

Jesus now has 12 disciples and they are listening to him as Jesus continues to teach the crowds of people. Jesus starts teaching, though, in parables and we see him speak about, and explain, the kingdom of God. For example:

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Mark 4:26-29

Jesus is the king in the kingdom of God. He told his disciples that he has all authority in heaven and on earth. He is the king!

In a kingdom, what the king says is how it is. That is the way that it works. Jesus is the king in the kingdom of God, so when Jesus says that this is the what the kingdom is like, we should pay attention! He is explaining how this should work.

Jesus explained the parable of the four different soils, explaining that, those that receive the word of God should produce a crop. That is the good soil. I wrote more on this in another post here: Am I Good Soil?

Then Jesus continued on with another parable saying that the light that we receive shouldn’t be hidden. It should be placed on a stand. It should be used to light the whole room.

Then comes the parable of the growing seed that I mentioned above. We can see there a process for growth and a harvest that is taking place. Here is a video that helps explain further:

And finally, Jesus compares the kingdom to a mustard seed that starts as the smallest of all seeds but grows into a large tree.

To me, it is clear what Jesus is teaching his disciples. He is explaining that the kingdom moves forward. The kingdom takes more territory. The kingdom doesn’t stop growing. And those who are truly disciples, those who are truly subjects in the kingdom, they are part of this work. They take part in seeing the kingdom grow.

Jesus is explaining to his disciples how his kingdom works and is about to start traveling with them to show them practical examples of what he has been explaining to them. Let us not miss the point and imagine that we can be still and believe. Jesus shows us that, in his kingdom, he and his disciples are on the move with the message, the good news of the kingdom of God. Let us do the same!


Next Step: Next Generation

Jesus has continued revealing himself, revealing his identity to the people, showing who he is by how he is teaching and the works that he has been doing. The people are starting to understand and have begun to follow him in large crowds. But the common man isn’t the only one who has understood. The Pharisees and religious leaders have understood as well, and now they are out to get him.

Jesus had gained a reputation for healing on the Sabbath. He was doing those things that were considered to be unlawful, according to the Jewish law, and then saying that he was the Lord of the Sabbath, as we saw in Mark chapter 2 when his disciples had taken some grains off of the stalks.

Now in chapter 3, the Pharisees had specifically come to see if Jesus would heal on the Sabbath. They wanted to catch him in the act of doing good so that they could accuse him of breaking the law. How upside-down is their thinking! It shows how much that they have truly begun to hate him.

Jesus does, in fact, heal the man. He knew what they were thinking, and in fact had the man with the shriveled hand stand up directly in front of them so that there would be nothing hidden. Jesus is challenging the Pharisees, fully knowing that it would one day cost him his life.

So it is in that context that Jesus goes on to choose his disciples. He is, on the one hand, setting himself up to be hated, and at one point soon, to be killed. Knowing this, he goes up on a mountain and calls 12 of the men out of the crowd of disciples that have been following him to come and be his closest disciples.

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Mark 3:13-18

Jesus had a role for each of them to play. Even Judas. Jesus knew that he would betray him, and yet Jesus chose Judas to be part of the group of his closest disciples. Jesus is thinking about this next generation that will one day carry on the work that he has been doing, and that he will continue to do.

Jesus would send them to preach. They would speak on his behalf, on behalf of the Kingdom of God, to the people around him. And he gave them authority to drive out demons so that their word, that which they are preaching, would be confirmed. Now, Jesus would take them and show them how to do what he does, and would soon be sending them out to do the same work that he will do. Jesus, in the midst of the troubled time, is thinking of the next generation and how they will also be sent to see the kingdom of God continue to expand.


Revealing Process

In these days, Muslim apologists try to poke holes in the idea that Jesus is, himself, God. They say silly things like:

Jesus never said, “I am God, worship me!”

And they say that because Jesus never said those precise words, he must therefore not be God. You see? Our logic is perfect. Jesus is not God. He is a prophet, and nothing more than a prophet!

To me, this strongly suggests that they have never actually read what Jesus did, nor what Jesus said.

I was reminded of this today as I read through Mark 2. The Pharisees and the rest of the Jewish people were trying to figure out who Jesus was. Jesus, through both his words and his actions, allowed them to see. Here are three examples in this one chapter:

First, some friends come to the house where Jesus is staying in Capernaum. They can’t get in because the crowds are so numerous that the doorway is blocked so they go up on the roof, dig a hole, and let their paralytic friend down on a mat through the hole in the roof. Jesus looks at the paralyzed man and instead of immediately healing him, Jesus tells him that his sins are forgiven.

The Pharisees who are there ask themselves, “Who is this that forgives sins. Only God can forgive sins!” And of course they are correct. Only God can forgive sins.

And yet Jesus tells the Pharisees that he wants them to know that he has this authority. Remember, only God can forgive sins, just as the Pharisees said. So what does Jesus do to prove that he has that authority? He asks whether or not it is easier to forgive sins or to tell the paralyzed man to pick up his mat and walk. And that is exactly what he was. The man is healed and he walks out of the house.

So the lesson is clear. The lesson isn’t just that Jesus can heal a paralytic. It isn’t that he was such a great teacher that there was a crowd there such that the friends couldn’t come in. The lesson is that Jesus is God! The Pharisees were exactly correct. Only God can forgive sins. And yet Jesus not only forgave them, but he also proved through the miracle that he had the authority to do so.

But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Mark 2:10-12

Next, let’s look at how Jesus refers to himself. With Levi, Jesus hangs out with the sinners, the tax collectors, the prostitutes. Jesus refers to them as the “sick”. Sick from what? Sick as a result of their sin. They are spiritually sick. They have the disease of sin corsing through them. But Jesus refers to himself as the doctor. He is the one who has the cure for their sickness. He is the God who can take away their sins. He is the one who can make them well.

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17

However, Jesus doesn’t stop there. He also refers to himself as the bridegroom. When the Pharisees come to ask Jesus why his disciples don’t fast like John’s disciples, he explains that the bridegroom is here. No one fasts while the bridegroom is with them. It is time to party! It is time to celebrate.

Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

Mark 2:19-20

Why would Jesus refer to himself as the bridegroom? The people of Christ are his bride. He has come to marry himself to them.

But maybe we can understand more from the question of fasting. The disciples and the Pharisees fast in their devotion to God. They take time to focus upon the Lord, not upon themselves and on their own needs, but upon God.

But if the bridegroom is with them, and we are referring to Jesus who is with the disciples, and the disciples are in question because of their lack of fasting, Jesus is saying that they don’t have to fast because the bridegroom is with them! God is there in their midst!

Now, finally, Jesus is questioned as to why his disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath. Jesus points out that even David and his men did what was unlawful by eating the bread in the temple that was dedicated to God. That was considered to be unlawful as well, and yet they were celebrated for what they had done.

So Jesus says that the Sabbath is intended to serve the people, not the people to serve the sabbath. The Sabbath should give rest, but if the people can’t eat, we shouldn’t be slaves to the Sabbath. In other words, you do not simply follow rules thinking that you are going to please God by following the rules. There is a need, in this case, a need to eat. The Sabbath should not stop them from eating.

Jesus is, though, even more pointed in his explanation. He says that he, himself, is the Lord of the Sabbath.

Let’s remember where the Sabbath came from. First, God had rested on the seventh day, a rest that continues to this day. That seventh day never ended.

Then, God commanded the Israelites in the midst of the 10 Commandments to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. The Israelites were commanded to do no work on that day. It was to be only a day of rest.

So keeping the Sabbath was commanded by God. But now, Jesus says he is the Lord of the Sabbath. He is the Lord over a command that was given by God? Yes, because he is, himself, God.

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Mark 2:27-28

Should we think that, in our feeble minds, we can come up with arguments that suggest that because Jesus didn’t say exactly what I think he should have said, he is therefore not God? No, that makes no sense. In fact, let’s think about what would have happened. Imagine that Jesus does exactly what Muslims suggest that he should have done, saying:

I am God, worship me!

Immediately, Jesus would have been taken for a crazy man, or a blasphemer, or both. He would have no credibility. No opportunity to do what he was actually there to do. He wouldn’t be able to teach his disciples. His timing would have been man’s timing for his death, not God’s timing. That would have been pretty silly and worthy of a lot of doubt…exactly how we should think about our Muslim friend’s arguments.

Instead, Jesus is revealing himself to the people. Those who had eyes to see and ears to hear would be able to do so. They would be able to see Jesus’s miracles, hear that he was giving forgiveness to sinners, and understand that he had the authority to do all of these things. May God forgive us for placing our own expectations upon Jesus.


Stay Focused

Jesus was beginning to get some notoriety. He had healed Peter’s mother-in-law there in Capernaum and when word of what had happened got out, the news began to spread. The people of the town and around the area lining up at the door of the house where he was staying and now it was on. Jesus’s fame was beginning to spread and he could start to build his ministry.

But after having healed all of those people and going to bed for the night, Jesus gets up early in the morning and goes away to pray. He needs to hear from the Father. He needs to talk about what he has seen and determine the next steps. The ministry could really begin to grow here in Capernaum. What should he do?

In the meantime, the disciples come looking for him. The people had been looking for Jesus, so they came to fetch him. After some time, they do finally find him, but what does Jesus tell them that he will do? He says exactly the opposite of what they are expecting: It is time to leave.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

Mark 1:35-39

The disciples had better get used to this. Jesus will rarely do what they think that he should do. He has work to do that they don’t really understand. He has priorities that they most certainly don’t understand. The disciples are in for a wild ride, one that will be quite confusing for them.

It is clear that God’s priorities are different than man’s priorities. Jesus is God and he is thinking differently than all of the men around him. They are thinking that they need to set up their ministry, open their shop, make a name for themselves with this teacher that not only speaks with authority, but heals people with a word of the touch of his hand. Jackpot!

But Jesus’s priority is that all will hear. He doesn’t care about crowds of people. He cares about all people. Capernaum is not enough. Others must hear as well. One city seems like enough to the disciples, but for Jesus, it isn’t enough until the news of the kingdom of God goes everywhere.

We also have the same tendencies and temptations as the disciples. We have been given a mandate, a plan. The scriptures tell us that Jesus has called us to make disciples, and we see churches planted. We don’t need anything else. We need to be faithful with what we have been given and do what we have been asked to do. With the little that we have, God will do the rest, so let’s stay focused on the task that he has given to us.


Christ Jesus is in you

Not too long ago, someone taught me that there is a point, an end, to discipleship. That point is that the other person might fully follow Christ, that they would go on to do the same things that you have learned, and more. I am discipling someone because I want them to know Christ and live in him as much as I do, and even more.

Paul tells the Corinthians that they need to examine themselves to confirm that they are, in fact, in Christ. Confirm that they know him. Confirm that they are walking with him.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you —unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.

2 Corinthians 13:5-7

He is telling the Corinthians that they need to make sure that they are in the faith. There are many reasons for this, of course, but this isn’t what Paul is most concerned about at the moment. He wants to make sure that this church isn’t full of people who are there for the social connection, but are instead there in community to know and glorify Christ.

Paul wants them to make sure that they are truly in the faith. Do they believe what they have been taught? Do they practice what they have been taught? Actually believe and practice?

In the end, Paul says that it may turn out that they have failed. Maybe he and his apostolic band of brothers haven’t fully fulfilled all that they were supposed to do to help the Corinthians become who they were to become. But as we stand before God, that will be a conversation that God has with them, with Paul and his compadres. God will also, though, have a conversation with each of the Corinthians. Were they in Christ?

What is more, and this is the reason that I wanted to write this today, Paul says that, if they are in the faith, Christ is in them! What does that mean? It means that they don’t need to keep coming to Paul to get the answers. They don’t need to argue with him as to whether Christ is truly speaking through him. Why? Because they have Christ within them already! He is already there. They, the Corinthians, simply need to listen to what he is saying.

There are a couple of lessons here, I think. First, I think that it is important for those of us as leaders to continue to remember that the people that we are working with have also received the Holy Spirit. As believers, they have Christ within them as well. And Christ wants to speak to them and through them. And Jesus doesn’t need our help. He doesn’t need my help. He can do all of the talking and instructing and leading and guiding that he wants to do, even without me.

The second lesson is for each person, that we need to pay attention. If we are in Christ, we must follow him. We must do what he tells us to do. It isn’t the responsibility of the leader of our church to tell me what to do. Yes, they have authority, but the greatest authority is that of Christ. What he says needs to be done. And if he says it, and it isn’t happening in my life, I don’t need to wait for the leader to point it out, or lead me to do it. I need to listen to Christ. And the more that I do that, the more that I learn to hear his voice and do what he says. And that will produce an ever-increasing strength of faith and action as a result of Christ in me.


Boast of weakness

Very often we want to show ourselves worthy, whether it would be worthy of love, worthy of respect, worthy of attention, worthy to be paid, and so much more. This happens regularly in our relationships with other people, but also in our relationship with God. People do “religious” activities, things that they believe that will make God pleased with them, and in that way, God will put a type of stamp of approval upon them.

Our relationship with God certainly doesn’t work that way, and over time, neither do our relationships with other people. As we get to know other people, and they get to know us, we are known not only for our strengths, that which we have put forward for others to see, but also for our weaknesses, those things that may make us seem less worthy, or unworthy, of whatever it is that we tried to be considered worthy of in the first place.

As Paul writes 2 Corinthians, there is a situation happening that others are coming in to Corinth to present themselves as true apostles, or as Paul says, “super-apostles”. They are preaching a gospel that Paul suspects is different than the Gospel that he had preached to them. And they hold themselves up as being the real deal because they are great speakers. They are gifted in preaching and teaching, and the Corinthians are beginning to judge Paul in the light of the giftings of the other teachers. They have said that Paul writes forcefully, but he isn’t very impressive in person. They have said that he seems timid and doesn’t speak well when he is with them.

But Paul isn’t deterred. He knows that the kingdom of God isn’t an issue of how forcefully you speak, or how well you teach. Paul is confident in the Gospel that he has spoken to the Corinthians and he is aware of both his own failings and what his detractors say about him. He isn’t worried, because this isn’t about him. He isn’t trying to get the Corinthians to follow him. He is working to convince the Corinthians that the Gospel that he has preached to them is correct, and if there is any other Gospel that they hear, they have been misled.

Paul realizes, and tells the Corinthians, that it isn’t his strength that is the question, but it is his weakness. It is in his weakness that he should boast:

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

2 Corinthians 11:30

Paul has a long list of reasons why he is a true apostle, and significantly more than anyone else that might come to them. But that isn’t the issue. Those reasons, in the end, are actually nothing because it is actually Paul’s weaknesses that are at issue.

But why would that be? Why would Paul want to put forward his weakness and boast about that to the Corinthians? Or to anyone else for that matter?

It is because Paul is attempting to point the Corinthians to Christ, not to himself. The other “super-apostles” hold themselves up as having great virtues. They hold themselves up as having great talents, and they attempt to have others follow them because of those talents. And the Corinthians are enticed. They are worldly and they see the worldly talents and are seduced by them. But Paul is trying to explain that the kingdom of God works in precisely the opposite way. He is strong only because of Christ. The truth is that he is weak and any strength that he has, it is because of the strength that Christ has put within him.

And this is the same truth also for us. Each of us also is weak. Anything that we would boast, anything that we would say about ourselves, we should recognize that it isn’t of ourselves, but it is of Christ. The world wants to hold up the frail talents of individual human beings, talents that will soon pass away and mean nothing. But in the kingdom of God, Christ is King and he and his kingdom will last forever. Our boast is our weakness because Christ has made us strong.


Measure themselves by themselves

Can you imagine trying to measure the length of a board by using the board itself? Or taking your height by looking at yourself in the mirror? No, of course not. That would be absurd and ridiculous because that isn’t possible. You cannot take the length of a board or your own height by using your own standard.

Or here is another one… What is my weight? Am I too heavy? Too skinny? If I measure that, in either direction, based on my own self and how I felt about myself yesterday, I can end up either in unmerited self-loathing or self-approval. Why? Because I have been measuring myself against myself.

Instead, as we measure, we need an external, standard measurement against which we can measure. In the case of length or height, maybe that would be a tape measure. In the case of weight, a scale and a chart to show me healthy ranges. Those would be proper ways to measure, not based on my own feelings or comparing myself against myself.

And yet that is what Paul says is happening with those who are commending themselves to the Corinthian church. There are some people who are attempting to have the Corinthian church follow them instead of Paul, telling the Corinthians that they are the proper apostolic person for them to follow, not Paul.

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you.

2 Corinthians 10:12-13

Despite the fact that Paul was the one who took the risk in sharing the Gospel, in preaching, making disciples, and starting the church in Corinth, others have now attempted to move in to take on the mantle of leadership. It is likely because the people in the church have preferred what they have done to teach them and allow their worldly lifestyles to continue unabated, there are now divisions amongst them, divisions that have harmed, and are continuing to harm, the church just as Paul has been pointing out.

So Paul is now trying to tell the Corinthians that it is because of these self-comparisons that these other apostolic-type leaders are claiming such leadership over the Corinthians. They have moved in, seeing themselves as the right person to lead the Corinthians. Not because they have been the one to start the church, but because they have looked at themselves in the mirror and decided that they were right. They measured themselves by themselves, not by what had actually been done, but by their own standards.

This caught my attention today because I see this happen throughout the spiritual world today. Yes, I see exactly this same situation that Paul is referring to, but it shows up in other ways as well. We frequently also compare ourselves with ourselves based on our own righteousness. We build ourselves up in our own eyes. We don’t realize that there is a standard outside of ourselves. We see our own selves as the standard and that is the standard by which we measure ourselves.

The place that I actually see this the most is with regard to holiness. Our righteousness before God. We consider ourselves to be righteous because we haven’t done a particular sin in a little while. We act religious, so we call ourselves righteous. And it is simply deception. It is a house of cards that is simply waiting for a slight breeze to make it fall.

Before God, which is the true measurement, the true standard, we are simply dirty in our sin. God is holy, and we are not. There are several examples that I can think of in the Bible where people realize this, but the one that always comes to mind first for me is that of Isaiah. As he stands in God’s presence, he experiences the holiness and the glory of God. He himself has been chosen. He is the one who will speak for God. Yet as he stands before God, he declares that he is a man of unclean lips, and he is from a people of unclean lips. Isaiah realizes his unholiness as he stands before God’s holiness.

But if Isaiah never realized the holiness of God, he might continue to think that he was a good guy, a righteous guy. He might compare himself with himself. He had been chosen as a prophet. He had been the one through whom God is speaking to the Israelite people. He is in great shape, isn’t he? But yes, that is simply comparing himself with himself. Instead, as he stands before God, he realizes how little he is, how unclean he is, as he stands before the holiness of God.

So as we walk forward in our lives, and especially in our spiritual lives, let us not compare ourselves with ourselves. Instead, let us be people who rightly measure and compare ourselves with a just and true measure so that God can use us in the way that he would like because we have seen who we truly are and what God has done, and is doing in us.


What is unseen is eternal

I love this last statement that Paul makes in 2 Corinthians 4. He is, in essence, using a play on words to make an incredibly important point, I think:

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18

Paul says that we must fix our eyes on what is unseen. But how is that possible? How do you fix your eyes on that which is unseen? How can we see what we cannot see?

Paul has been talking about the glory of Christ revealed through his disciples. He said that, on the one hand, they carry around the death of Christ in their bodies. These bodies, of course, are the things that are seen.

But Paul goes on afterward to also say that they do this so that the life of Christ would be revealed in those same bodies. Life, though, is a thing that is unseen.

You can’t “see” life. You can see the body. You can see it in motion. You can see it move, speak, and react and those are the effects of life, but that isn’t specifically life. Life is something that is unseen.

And yet Paul says that they are fixing their eyes on the things that are unseen. You see, we spend most of our time thinking and worrying about the things that are seen. What we will eat today. How we will pay our bills. What we will do today. How someone will think about us, and how they will react to us. These are the things that we spend the majority of our time thinking about.

Paul says that, instead of these things, they are fixing their eyes on the things that are unseen. The glory of Christ. Christ living in people all around them. The Kingdom of God at work within them and through them. These are the things upon which he is fixing his gaze.

Why? Because these are the only things that last. All of the things that are seen will go away. They will all be destroyed. Burned up. Gone at some point.

None of those things that we are spending our time, energy, and money worrying about, talking about, nor working toward will last. Only those things that are unseen will be what will last forever.

So we have a choice. Do we fix our eyes on the things that are seen? Or do we fix our eyes on the things that are unseen? Do we work for that which will be gone soon? Or do we work for that which will last forever? Which would you prefer?

Now, which will you do?