2 Corinthians 4:18. as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
What if your life was reduced to only what you could see now? Think about it. What if all that existed is what you could visibly see right this moment? Life would be very different wouldn’t it? For example, right now I can’t see outside, or downstairs, or China. But yet I believe that all of those places still exist.
Paul is sort of asking us a similar question here in 2 Corinthians. Do we believe that only what exists in the present is what actually exists? Is there is a reality beyond your reality?
Do you believe in the unseen? The eternal? Do you believe that our suffering prepares glory for us as we look at the unseen? If you do, then your present suffering will be preparing for you a future glory beyond all comparison.
2 Corinthians 4:17. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
In 2 Corinthians 4:18, Paul is contrasting two things that can be focused on – the seen and the unseen. Now, this is important: this is not about the literally visible and invisible. It’s not even just about the physical and spiritual. It’s about the NOW and the LATER. It’s about the temporary and the eternal.
The seen parts of your life are those that are temporary. They won’t survive death. They run out. They’re not part of the everlasting kingdom. Can you name these parts of your life? Money? Job? Car? Pool membership? Vacation? Sex? Yes, all of these. But also your suffering. Cancer. Pain. Divorce. Racism. Dying.
These seen things, or things in the present world, including our suffering, are meant to cause us to look to the unseen things. The things that are eternal. Things that will survive death. Things that will be in the everlasting kingdom. Can you name these parts of your life? Love? Grace? Faith? Goodness? The glory of Christ?
And like we said, this isn’t primarily about visible v invisible, or even physical v spiritual. In fact, many of the unseen things will one day be quite visible and physical. Your new body. Everything on the New Earth. Jesus! All the saints. Jesus! The New Jerusalem. The glory of God. Jesus!
So what does it mean to look at or behold the unseen? It means hoping. It means waiting in faith. It means suffering. This is all very hard for us these days. We are so attached to the moment. Faster download speeds. Instant access. No waiting. No patience. Which means very little hoping, or believing, and we make no allowance for suffering in our lives.
But the consequence of this theology of glory is that we miss out on grace, and thus the glory of the crucified life. When we only look at today, with its temporary and transient glory, the present affliction will wipe out any true glory we might experience by actually beholding and embracing the cross.
“To live is Christ” means there is no glory without the cross. And the glory that your cross brings “today” will not be manifest until “tomorrow.” Until then, bearing the cross is our glory, because it is God’s grace and our faith that sustains us in the harsh realities of today. This is why we must fight to look at the unseen, the future glory, rather than the today glory. We must fight to hope, and believe, and love, knowing that one day all will be made right. We must fight to receive the life of Jesus, his grace and his love, for this alone makes all suffering not just bearable but glorious. Even our dying.
Is your life focused on the seen or unseen? How does the future glory that Christ promises you allow you to love, suffer, and give grace today?