“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)
On first reading, these words seem somewhat oxymoronic. My eyes are designed for seeing. How are they meant to see what is unseen?
However, it all comes down to perspective. If we see with our eyes, we see just what is before us — what we recognise, can point to, validate.
The landscape painter JM Turner once stated that he needed to complete a painting of the clouds as he saw them at that moment, as they would never be the same again. Whatever we look at is always changing — the light, movement, shadows, color.
Maybe one of the reasons we take photos is to capture something in that specific moment, so we can then hold the image well after it has actually disappeared. And, even with time, the photo itself fades, gets lost, or these days is deleted.
Even what we see with our eyes can be governed by our mood and focus at the time. We may see the flowers in a garden but miss the dog sleeping under a bush.
Our eyes can, therefore, not only be unreliable but even deceptive. How many times have witnesses in a court case given different accounts of the same event? They all swear under oath that what they saw is true and correct.
There is even truth in the statement that we often see only what we want to see.
But against the transitory nature of what we see with our eyes, Paul directs us to the insight that comes from knowledge. This knowledge comes to us through God’s grace that there is more — much more to life than what we see with our eyes that is indestructible, unchanging and eternal: “an eternal house in heaven not built by human hands” (5:1).
Am I short-sighted? Am I missing out on what I am not “seeing” by focusing on my need for proof, validation, assurance that I can touch and feel? Am I trusting my own resources to find faith rather than seeking God’s grace?
Open my heart, Lord, that I may see you in your glory, worship and praise you as I await entry to the eternal house you have prepared for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.