Wednesday, November 10, 2010

... and invisible

There are two words in the Nicene Creed that are incredibly misunderstood, neglected, and just not appreciated by modern man. I believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And invisible. No other word of the Creed does more damage to the way in which we in the West tend to think today than this - invisible. We are taught, we are trained, we are raised to be happy little scientific thinkers whose grasp on reality is limited to merely what we can see, touch, measure, quantify, or experiment upon - and our understanding of the world revolves almost solely around our theories about these visible things, and our experiments to study them, and even our wild theories about how to manipulate them.

We are obsessed with the visible things of the world, to the neglect of the invisible. And why? Because we think we can be masters of the visible. Whether this is true or not, the idea is that we can progress, that through technology and advancement we can master the physical, visible world around us. Better living through technology, medicine, chemistry, and the like.

Now, far be it from me to say that all this is bad. Much of it is good - the open heart surgery for one of my members yesterday - good. TV that lets me watch sports from miles away - good. The transportation grid that brings me foods from around the world so that even Caesar would be jealous - good. The laptop upon which I type this. . . good. However, we neglect things.

First, we can forget that the visible falls apart. That very laptop that I said was good -- well, it is falling apart. 3.5 years old -- the battery is sort of shot, the plastic casing hasn't endured well, sometimes the hard drive is more noisy than it should be. . . it is not long for this world. Even though it is good, it is a blessing -- it, like everything else in this world, is also... bad. Falling apart. To be slightly overdramatic . . . it is DOOMED.

Now, this is a visible reality, that things all fall apart, which we like to ignore in our scientific splendor (or at least pretend we can fix... oooOOOooo, if I get a shiny new Mac Laptop with a metal case, it will live longer. . . Longer ain't forever). This itself shows a failing our of our modern approach.

But it's more than that. And invisible. So often we do not even consider the realities of the spiritual - the things that we do not see with the eye, the things that we cannot judge. I think it's interesting that Jesus tells us not to judge our neighbor -- this isn't just a matter of Him saying, "be nice" - He's telling us this because it is impossible. I can weigh a bag of rice - do I weigh the goodness or wickedness of my neighbor's heart. While I may see results, do I see the thoughts that led to the actions which came. Am I in any position to judge, to evaluate that which I cannot see? Of course not.

We ourselves are partially invisible - we are beings of both Body and Spirit - and we forget this. And we have been trained to ignore the spiritual - to neglect it, to not think of it as real. And of course, dealing with things that are totally spiritual - angels, demons, all the host of heaven joining in our song - these things aren't even considered. Often, even in the Church.

I can't *see* forgiveness (well, actually, since Christ knows you like to see, He does give you pastors whom you can hear and see forgive you, and He does give you His Supper, which is forgiveness that you can see, feel, taste, smell) - and so often in many "Churches" it is neglected - ignored so that we might find more toys, more "blessings" that simply fade and decay and are forgotten.

We neglect the spiritual - because we are trained by our society to forget the spiritual. But you, O Christian, have been called out of the darkness of the world, and to you it has been given to see all of reality, visible and invisible, by the Light of the World, Christ Jesus, who makes you to see your sin and your Savior, who makes you aware of not only this life, but the life of the world to come. Rejoice and delight in these things that though invisible, you now know, confess - that you who were blind now see.

No comments: