Happy New Year! 2020! Yay! This is the year and actually, the month that PHBC turns 80. Extra yay!!! What a huge privilege it is to be alive today.
The final verse of 2 Corinthians 4 is our motto verse for the year 2020. As we, the church, journey through this year, we are seeking to hold this verse to heart and remind ourselves of its meaning on a regular basis. This year, we want to see this verse come alive in PHBC. The verse (2 Corinthians 4:18) says, “We fix our eyes not on what is see, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”.
The entire second letter of Paul to the Corinthians, (the book of 2 Corinthians) is fundamentally aimed at us letting the Holy Spirit bring about a work of faith in our lives and this chapter is no different in that objective.
In verse 7 of the same chapter, Paul refers to treasures in jars of clay (earthen vessels).
This is the thing about the faith that we have in Jesus Christ. It is full of these kinds of things. Paradoxes. What a paradox Paul refers to here. Think about it for a moment. Something that is a prized and valuable, stored in something as fragile and breakable as a clay jar.
In verses 8 and 9, things don’t seem to get better. Paul reminds us of the difficult things that have happened. He reminds us that stuff has been tough for us. Like a pair of trainers, that have been really tested. When writing this verse, he uses words like pressed, crushed, perplexed, despair, persecuted, abandoned, destroyed. By the time we get to verses 10, 11 and 12, he is talking about carrying in our body, the death of the Lord Jesus and telling us that we are always being given over to death and how death is at work in us. Come one, where’s the good news? Well, it is there. It may be seen, it may be unseen, but it is actually right there.
When verse 7 refers to treasures in clay jars, Paul is talking about the paradox of God where we, weak, frail, fallen human beings are the vessels that God chooses to demonstrate His limitless power on earth. We have been given the real treasure.
In verses 8 and 9, despite all the tough stuff that Paul lists as having happened, there is another side. Pressed on every side, but not in despair. Paul recognises that we are persecuted and struck down, but we are not abandoned or destroyed. We are built to last. We are designed to go the distance.
The following verses follow this pattern of highlighting one side and then the other, reminding us that by faith we believe. But it doesn’t end there. Look at verse 13. It admonishes us not only to believe what God says, but to have that faith manifest itself in our speech. We don’t just believe, we confess. “It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak…”.
Verse 17 is a very well-known verse. Paul writes about our light and momentary troubles. The KJV calls it our ‘light affliction’ that works in us an eternal weight of glory, that is, a glory that outweighs all others. Again, we see that contrast, that paradox. The final verse of the chapter sums up our entire text. This is the final contrast. Here Paul actually talks about seeing the unseen. “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”. And there it is. Seeing the unseen.
If you look at all the verses, you’ll see this very trend in them. The natural versus the spiritual, the earthly versus the heavenly, the experienced versus the expected, the seen versus the unseen. Look at the text again. Verse 7 talks about clay jars yet, God’s limitless power. Verses 8 and 9 talk about being pressed, crushed, perplexed yet, not in despair, not abandoned, not destroyed. Verses 10 and 11 talk about the death of Jesus yet, the life of Jesus. Verse 16 talks about wasting away yet, being renewed day by day. This is what the Lord is calling us to in 2020. To see the unseen.
Sometimes, the seen is there to distract us from the unseen. Sometimes, what we are going through in the here and now, can keep us from the blessed hope we have for our tomorrow. Still, we must look for it.
He is calling us to see the unseen. He is calling us to have the confidence to say what will come, even when we have not yet seen it. He is calling us to walk by faith and not by sight. He is calling us to trust that He will come through for us. He is calling us, even though we are being battered like a pair of trainers in a marathon, to trust that He is in control and our future is assured, because it is a future with Him in it. He is calling us to see the unseen. He is calling us, even though we have not lost our memories of how hard life has been, to look forward to our future, not backwards at our past, no matter how good or bad it was. In 2020, God is calling us to see the unseen.
He is calling us to look at the fact that the spiritual temperature of our community, our street, our neighbourhoods, our workplace, our schools may be cold and yet, to see the fire of the Holy Spirit burning in the hearts of those around us. He is calling us to see that even though it looks one way, it can be another way. He is calling us to see the unseen.
For us to fully fulfil the calling of the Lord for us in 2020, for us to live out the motto verse for this year, we must change our perception. The church is not this building, as beautiful as it is. The actual church is more beautiful than all this, because the church is you. Yes, you.
You see, God is calling is to do more, be more and show more love than ever before.
Step out in faith and see the unseen.
Be a witness for Jesus and see the unseen.
Expect people to come to faith and see the unseen.
Expect miracles as each person we reach, reaches someone else in turn.
And all because we live by that scripture and see the unseen.
Will you answer that call?
I pray that you do and as you do, may you have another testimony.