How Do You See?
I don’t know about you, but the last number of sermons on the importance of hearing and responding to God’s Word has been convicting to me. As I have been reflecting on the Parable of the Soils and the light of Jesus’ teaching, knowing there is more He desires to give if I will come humbly, expectantly, and obediently to His word; I am saddened and at a loss for those who reject it. While Jesus offers a number of reasons in the Parable of the Soils as to why some walk away after hearing it; the first soil parallels our memory verse from this month:
2 Corinthians 4:3–4 (ESV), “3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
In these verses two things have stood out to me. Paul helps us see others and to see Christ, each in a particular way.
How we see others—
At the outset, maybe stating the obvious is best; we are in a spiritual battle. The reality is Satan hates God, God’s people, and God’s plan of redemption. One of Satan’s tactics is spiritual blindness. After all, you can’t see what you can’t see. We cannot forget this truth as we rub shoulders with the world. When we do forget this, we tend to become self-righteous and irritable. Not for Paul, though.
Paul’s words come in a context where his ministry was attacked by false teachers trying to turn the tide against him in Corinth. They were undermining his message by saying it was outdated and outmoded. Notice 2 Cor. 4 begins and ends with the phrase “we do not lose heart.” He knew the gospel was the power of God unto salvation for those who believed. He also knew it was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles (1 Cor. 1:18-31).
Paul encouraged Timothy with these words as he faced challenging people inside and outside the church:
2 Timothy 2:24–26 (ESV), “24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
To patiently endure evil and give gentleness in place of anger, a believer must never forget they have been saved by grace. The more we understand God’s grace towards us (think of the unnamed woman in Luke 7:36-50), the more we can respond in love to God and act graciously towards those around us, even and especially our enemies.
How we see Christ—
Paul wonderfully describes Jesus and the gospel in these verses. As you read Paul’s letters it is not hard to see his wonder and love for Jesus. This is especially powerful when you remember that Satan powerfully used Paul to attack Jesus and his body, the church. Then one day, everything for Paul changed, for God removed the veil, and he beheld Christ and his glory, who is the image of God.
“In Christ we see who God is—Creator and Redeemer; what God is like—a God of mercy and love; and what God does—sending his Son to rescue people from the dominion of darkness and bringing about the reconciliation of all creation through his death on a cross.” (David Garland)
As we journey through the Gospel of Luke, take time to reflect on Who it is we are studying. John Own in his work, The Glory of Christ, says it well:
“The revelation made of Christ in the blessed gospel is far more excellent, more glorious, and more filled with rays of divine wisdom and goodness, than the whole creation and the just comprehension of it, if attainable, can contain or afford…This, therefore, deserves the severest of our thoughts, the best of our meditations, and our utmost diligence in them. For if our future blessedness shill consist in being where he is, and beholding of his glory, what better preparation can there be for it than in a constant preview contemplation of that glory in the revelation that is made in the Gospel, unto this very end, that by a view of it we may be gradually transformed into the same glory?” (Owen, The Glory of Christ)