2 Corinthians 5:7. for we walk by faith, not by sight.
With this phrase Paul has brilliantly condensed the life of the Christian down to a simple eight word reflection. Union with Christ is the life of faith (Gal. 2:20). For the Christian, faith is an active dependence upon God. He is the object of our faith. And yet he is unseen. He is hidden.
Often faith is seen as contrary to reason. But real faith is always rooted in reason. Just unseen reason. Hidden realities. Like God himself. Like the future glory that Paul has been talking about in 2 Corinthians. These hidden realities are actually the ultimate realities. Realities that remain unseen only for now. One day we will see Jesus. We will see God. We will see the New Earth and our new body. We will see each other in a state of glory. But until then, in the present, we live by faith. We trust in what we cannot yet see. How? Because we trust in the God who has made himself seen. A God who died on the cross for you and me. A God who entered into time and space so that we could trust him.
But, once again, the cross is the paradox of the hidden God. In the cross God is both hidden and unhidden, unseen and seen. At the cross God was fully present and yet absent. He was both screaming and silent. His glory was both veiled by the shame of the cross and yet revealed by the honor of the cross. And that is why it takes great faith to see God in the cross. This is why it takes great faith to see God in his hiddenness and hear him in his silence.
Rather than embrace the hiddenness, we grasp for the seen. In Paul’s day they held on to the seen temple, the seen priests, the seen sacrifices. The Corinthians wanted to see displays of power. For us today it is seeing “Christian principles” at work, or having “spiritual experiences” that we require to bolster our faith. We have to hear Jesus call to us in our “quiet time” (how ironic). We have to see miracles happen. But most of all, at the end of the day, living by sight for us is just simply living from our own good works in an attempt to feel good about our existence.
We love displays. We love testimonies of grandeur. We love cause and effect. We love to see God work out all of our problems. We love glory without the cross. We hate the silence. We hate the hiddenness of God. We actually hate carrying the cross.
But the truth is God is still hidden and yet revealed within the cross. Our cross. Our crucified life. Faith is seeing that our union with Christ unites us in his death. This place of power hidden within weakness. Honor hidden within humility. Wisdom hidden within folly. Christ’s screaming hidden within the droughts of God’s silence.
If there is no hiddenness, and if there is no silence, then how can there be faith? If all is seen, how can we trust in the unseen? If there is no despair, then how could there be hope? This world we live in is a living hell, and for those with faith in the unseen things of God it can be so confusing that you may just want to quit. Don’t.
Because the “Hidden God” was unhidden at the cross, but only for those who had faith to see it. The glory of God was veiled by the gruesome terror of the crucified Jesus. “To live is Christ” is this same hiddenness. God is hidden in our gruesomeness. Our weakness. Our sacrifice. Our folly. Our cross. Our jar of clay. Our death and dying. Our light and momentary affliction. Our messed up life. How? Because your messed up life displays the grace and goodness of the cross. This is where God’s glory is displayed, in his grace. Grace that is revealed somewhere between your ordinary life, and your life riddled with despair.
Can you see how your Christianity is characterized by “walking by sight?” What would your life look like if you truly lived by faith and not by sight? Can you see how God is hidden and yet revealed within the grace of your union with Christ and in your crucified life for the sake of others?