“Thank God I’m not like the people who are killing me!” Anon villager in the Congo
It was a raid or just bandits shooting up a village. No one really knows. The men were rounded up, some were shot, some were carried away. One older Christian man had a gun pressed to his head and spoke to his neighbor who was being hustled away. The neighbor watched in horror as his friend was shot dead on the spot. The last words the old man spoke are quoted above. (This story was told to me by a Congolese man.)
I thought I knew what faith was about. I would read news broadcasts and become angry and enraged by the lack of humanity displayed by nations, armies and rebellion leaders. I’d be furious to see parents abuse their children or families being gunned down by another family member. Famine, starvation, refugee camps and people fleeing from war torn countries would make my bile rise.
Yet this old man, an unnamed Christian, had another kind of faith in his Lord. He saw reality for what it was. He knew that the only reality he had for life was in Christ. His life would be over within seconds and yet, he understood that whatever he’d done, whatever he had managed to do, whatever he needed to do, was already welcomed by Jesus.
And it make me realize: faith is life, all of it!
“Be careful! Don’t let anyone capture you with philosophy or misleading theories that can fool you. These come from human tradition and worldly standards, not from Christ!” Col 2:8 (Simple English Bible)
Dan insisted that it was true! The book he waved around had all the ‘facts’ and ‘figures’ — everything lined up! Jesus had ALREADY returned to earth and now, we were all left behind. At first, I couldn’t believe than Dan was serious. An event like the return of our Lord wouldn’t go unnoticed or be forgotten. But according to the book Dan had, he believed it was so.
My friend was especially paranoid now that Jesus had left without him. Dan was living in an evil world, fraught with Satan’s machinations — he was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to defend himself against the wickedness that now visited the earth. As much as I tried to explain to Dan that, although the world was going its own way, heedless of morality, ethics or righteousness, it had always been like that? It was our faith in Christ that kept us in His care.
I was never able to convince Dan. He eventually left the church, disillusioned that fellow believers didn’t understand his point of view and ignored his dire warnings. I wished he could see that God is faithful. That Christ promised to be with us until the end of the age. That Heaven awaits for all those who are faithfully enacting their righteousness.
After all, we rely completely on God’s promises and He has never failed one of them!
“”We shouldn’t look at things which can be seen. Instead, we should look for things which cannot be seen. What is seen is only temporary but what is unseen lasts forever.” II Cor 4:18 (Simple English Bible)
How’s your vision? I recently had mine checked and discovered that my eyes were slightly better. I didn’t need new glasses but there was a price to pay for the way my eyes had changed. I can read much better without my glasses and even watch TV this way, too. But there is a gap between what I can see without my glasses and what is clear with them. I now have to push books further away until they are in focus! Just like thousands of other people!
The apostle Paul wrote about a similar situation but in a spiritual context. Because we live in a physical world, we tend to pay more attention to time, weather, jobs and family because these things really need to be taken care of. We worry about them, plan to take better care of them and spend as much time as we can with them.
However, the same amount of care and time should be given to our spiritual nature. Are we being fed and matured with the Word and our active faith? Are we listening to Christ’s call and being empowered by the Holy Spirit? Can we do more to help others because of our love for our Lord?
Perhaps what we can’t see is more meaningful than what we can see!