Seeing the Spiritual

            A phrase you might have heard before is, “seeing is believing.” Yet, I don’t need to see my wife place my dinner before me to know that what is on it is going to be delicious. This is because when people see things, it is actually their brain that is doing the majority of the work. The eyes simply transmit, but the brain interprets. Emotions, memories, our attention, personal biases, and the previously seen can all affect our present vision. Hence the phrase, “looks can be deceiving.”

            Even though people cannot see it, a soul resides in each and every individual on the planet. In the Bible, proof of the soul can be seen in the story of David and his older brother Eliab. God sent His prophet, Samuel, to go to Jesse’s house and anoint one of his sons as the future king of Israel. Samuel, originally saw the older brother’s appearance and was ready to anoint him because he assumed that Eliab must have been the chosen son. Yet, the Lord stopped Samuel and said, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

            Since mankind lives in a physical world, the temptation to put the physical before the spiritual is a big one. In the four gospel books of the Bible, the Pharisees and Sadducees struggled with the sin of idolizing the physical. They coveted their positions of religious power and influence in Jewish society so much that they killed Jesus to keep them. When it came to religious teachings, the Pharisees would muddle God’s word with traditions and opinions. Meanwhile, the Sadducees tended to personally interpret verses of the Torah as they were literally written. Putting the physical in front of the spiritual was a big stumbling block for the Pharisees and Sadducees, but it also was not an issue that was limited to them.

            Jesus’ own disciples often struggled with understanding Jesus because they set their minds on the things of man. In the beginning of Matthrew 16, the Pharisees and Sadducees got together and attempted to trap Jesus into performing a sign. After pointing out their sin, He got into a boat with His disciples and said, “Be careful…Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:6) Since the disciples had forgot to take food with them on the boat, they mistakenly thought Jesus’ warning was about lacking physical bread. Jesus perceived their misunderstanding and responded, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread?...Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:8-11) Jesus hadn’t warned His disciples about forgetting bread, but to beware the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

            The world will attempt to teach us that the Earth is a purely physical existence that denies any evidence of a higher power. Yet there is such a complexity to our natural world that many things are still unknown, misunderstood, and might never be known. The difference between Jesus’ disciples and the Jewish religious leaders is that the disciples opened their hearts to Jesus. They still made mistakes because they were human, but they leaned on a higher power to help them understand what they on their own were unable to clearly see. Romans 12:20 says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Through Jesus, each person has the opportunity to humble themselves and gain wisdom regarding the misunderstood. Everything that is absolutely important to living a righteous existence with God is already in the Bible. Will you choose to rely on your eyes or the eyesight of God?