Everyone at some point in life has either heard or said the phrase, “I need to see it to believe it.” Sure, it’s a cliché statement, but it reveals a lot about how we operate in society and perceive reality around us.
Sight is one of the five senses, but we give it a ton of credence today (too much, actually).
Look at the porn industry. Is it not booming?
Have a conversation with people about God. Most conversations end up talking about evidence and why we don’t see God. Hopefully, though, those conversations don’t stop there.
But even though we are immersed in a society of sights and consequential feelings with our latest technologies and the like, have we turned a blind eye to the damage or the insignificance of it all? Willingly, even? Yet, with our huge dependence on media for information about everyday things, it seems we are trapped.
In Why Johnny Can’t Preach, T. David Gordon indirectly mentions this very subject (specifically TV) as well as some reasoning behind it:
“Everything about it [television] is trivial… Because its pictures must move, it captures best those things that are kinetic, that have motion. Yet few of the more significant aspects of life involve much motion: love, humility, faith, repentance, prayer, friendship, worship, affection, fear, hope, self-control. Most of what is significant about life takes place between the ears, as we make sense of life, of our place in it, and of our failures and successes, our joys, our sorrows, our fears, our loves.”
Gordon may be talking about TV, but this really applies to most of our other forms of media as well. And I completely agree with Gordon.
Many people honestly believe everything must be seeable to be true or believable, but what about a marriage in trouble? How will a couple work an issue out, or even know there is an issue, without talking and communicating about it? Obviously, a husband and wife will notice problems in how the relationship looks, but what about hidden sins and secrets?
It takes time and listening. Not just in human marriage, but in reading, friendship, and all the other stuff Gordon mentioned. If we are too busy trying to find out what the latest news story is or the next big thing Steve Jobs will announce, we won’t be able to hone in on the more important fundamentals in life (again, like what Gordon mentioned above).
When we look to see what God says about it, he says the same thing.
Deuteronomy 4:11-12 – “You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice.”
In the verses after that passage God tells the Israelites not to make physical, visual idols.
The reason why God wants kids who hear and obey, not see and obey, is a matter of being different. God is different than anything else this world or any religion has to offer. No image can confine him, and doing so would only open the image up to human corruption like so many idols before.
There is a certain hint of intimacy to this. Those who still insist sight must be apparent for validity would do well to realize they did not start out this way. They say in the mother’s womb, it takes only a matter of weeks for the baby to know its mother’s voice. Then when it is born, the child’s eyes confirm what it already knows to be true in its heart.
It is the same way with Christians as we are the children of God. He doesn’t imprison us in a visual dungeon. He frees us to something greater, where love, a subject of infinite more value than anything fathomable by the eyes, conquers all.