6/17/2018 Fourth Sunday after Pentecost The text is 2 Corinthians 5:6-17.
Grace and peace to you from God, our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Walk by faith and not by sight…in so many ways, that is easier said than done. Have you ever imagined what it would be like if you had no sight and were walking blind? I know firsthand what it is like. For years ago, when going through surgery after surgery for eye problem known as strabismus, I experienced temporary blindness. The blindness would happen at night after a long day of work and early evening activities. It would happen, when my brain, overloaded by the effort to coordinate my two offset eyes, would simply shut off my vision.
I had no control over it and it was scary when this happened, especially if I was outside my familiar surroundings. So, I never went beyond walking distance from my home at night, just in case I had to leave my car and find my way in darkness. With other senses heightened, by the grace of God, I always managed to get home.
Have you ever imagined what it would be like if you had no sight and were walking blind? Maybe you have, maybe you’ve experienced it, or maybe you got a taste of it through something called a trust walk. Years ago, as part of a Bible study class, I went on a trust walk. In a trust walk, one person is blindfolded and cannot see, and another person, one who needs to be trusted, leads you by voice and hand. In a trust walk, you have to believe that the person leading you isn’t going to put you in harm’s way, that the person will tell you when and where to turn to avoid objects, and that the person will tell you when you need to lift up your feet so you do not stumble. After only a couple of steps most people become totally disoriented for it is so unnatural for us to walk without looking where we are going. It can be scary as you give up control and place yourself in someone else’s hands.
Walk by faith and not by sight…that is what Paul is telling us to do. As in the trust walk, we are to give up control and place ourselves into God’s hands, knowing that God will guide us through the difficulties of life and lead us to an eternal home waiting for us through Jesus Christ. Those who walk by sight often find themselves in stark despair when they suffer, when the pain they experience is out of their control. Those who walk by faith are always of good courage even when things turn sour, for they know that while they have to deal with whatever comes their way, the Lord is there beside us. Their hope, their confidence, is not grounded in what they can or cannot do for themselves or what they can gain in this world. Their hope, their confidence is in what God has in store for them in Jesus Christ.
So, as followers of Christ, we are not to build our lives around things that have no eternal significance. Rather than pursuing the same things the world pursues, we are to focus on the unseen realities that God has in store for us – but to do so requires tremendous courage and strength for while by doing so we may gain the strength and courage to walk securely through the problems and difficulties of this life, we also must be willing to be misunderstood and even abandoned.
As Charles Swindoll (Walk by Faith, Not by Sight – 9/20/16) said, “You must be willing to give up whatever control of your life that you thought you might have and be willing to place your life, your will, your hopes and dreams in the hands of God…This journey of faith comes with tremendous blessings and rewards. It is a journey that is exciting, life-altering, and mind-boggling. It is a journey that will allow you to see and experience God as he was meant to be: in all his fullness and grace. But walking by faith and not by sight requires you to go to a place you do not know, one that God will reveal as you walk in obedience.
If you choose this path, you must be willing to get out of your comfort zone, to run from the Americanized brand of Christianity that so many of us have known our entire lives. You must be willing to let God take your world and turn it upside down, shake it up, and start all over again. You must be willing to let God out of the neat little box that you have put him in, to let him show up as he sees fit.
Maybe it will be a calling to do something you never dreamed before: foster or adopt children, leave your job and become a missionary, trade in the worldly comforts for heavenly treasures. Maybe it won’t be that clean and neat and socially acceptable. Maybe your world will be turned upside down by the pain of adultery and divorce. Or maybe you will be faced with infertility or addiction. Maybe you will have a prodigal child that completely changes the direction of your life. Or, maybe you’ve experienced the loss of a child—a hurt like no other.”
I don’t know what your shake up might look like, but I know that if you will give it to God—throw up your arms in surrender and ask him to use it to change your life—he will honor your request. He will take you on a journey, teach you to walk by faith, entrust you with some of life’s most treasured moments.”
All this means that walking by faith involves change for “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away…” What that change will look like for you in your life, I do not know. But, don’t take your eyes off of God and don’t take your eyes off of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, for it is God’s power to save and to change you into the person that he created you to be.
The challenge is to walk by faith, and not by sight – and that is as unnatural as walking with our eyes closed. But the more steps we take, the more comfortable this walk will become, and the more confident we will be of the destination of our walk. For, it is God and God alone through the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who is leading us. Trust in the one who is the purveyor of all the good gifts that matter in this life and all that is to come. For ultimately that’s what faith is all about – it is “the assurance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1).
So, my friends, grab hold of God’s hand and join the walk. And may the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.