By Faith, Not by Sight

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Most likely you are familiar with Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “for we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). He was not endorsing the idea of “blind faith” but rather that of “believing faith.” Sounds redundant, I know. Nevertheless, we need to keep these two issues of biblical confidence together. Blind faith is nothing more than a leap in the dark. It is akin to someone entering a marathon having never trained and just hoping for the best. That’s not a wise move and is sure to end in disappointment. Biblical, or believing, faith, on the other hand, is a confidence grounded in a good reason.

For example, in the 1952 Olympics, Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia won gold in both the 5,000 metre and 10,000 metre races. A few days later, he decided, at the last minute, to run the marathon. He had never run that distance before. He ended up winning the gold medal as well as breaking the Olympic record. Though this was remarkable, it is also true that he had the conditioning to be able to do it. Both skill and plenty of training provided a solid reason for his remarkable feat. Doubtless he entered and ran by faith, but it was an informed faith. He had what was needed for the task.

Biblically informed Christians renounce the blind and presumptive faith of the prosperity gospel while embracing biblicalfaith. With good biblical reason, we run the marathon of the Christian life. And the better conditioned we are by biblical truth, the more fruitful we will be, even when we are out of sight. And in these days, perhaps as rarely before, we are being called upon to walk by faith, not by sight. Quite literally.

For several months (and perhaps for several more to come), we have been unable to see what God is doing both in thechurch and in our church, during and with this crisis. Sure, we get some glimpses along the way as we hear reports of Christians maturing and of unbelievers coming to faith. This is encouraging. Yet there is so much which we do not see, and yet we keep running the race.

I have joked with some that our church attendance is the lowest it has been for years! And therefore, for the most part, I literally cannot see our church membership. At least, not all in one place at the same time. And, to be honest, sometimes that makes me nervous. “Concerned” is the more spiritual sounding word but, in my worst moments, I worry. It’s kind of like, “If I can’t see our members, they might not be doing well.” I suppose that goes with the shepherding heart, and yet it is precisely here where I need to walk by faith. I am learning that, as important as church life is, nevertheless, in these days of God’s providential hindering our gathering, he is still at work.

The inability to see God’s work in the life of the church is driving me to more frequent and focused prayer, and it is helping me to realise just how expendable I am. God uses his people, and we don’t want to lose sight of that truth. Nevertheless, as John Wesley said, “When God buries his workmen, his work continues.” I have known these truths for decades, and perhaps now I am coming to appreciate just how true they are.

God is doing a work, no doubt a great work, which, for the time being, we cannot see. But, having been conditioned by God’s word before lockdown, and staying spiritually conditioned by the Lord during lockdown, let’s keep walking (or running) by faith.

Most doubted that Emil Zatopek could pull off the golden triple, but all of those hours of training, out of sight, equipped him to accomplish the otherwise impossible. But for us, we aim, not for a medal, but rather for the crown of life (James 1:12).

Believing with you,

Doug