Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:21-23
Is it possible to see the mission of God while viewing things from our worldly perspective? When we set our minds on things of man, can we even begin to carry out the mission of God in the world? There is a much bigger picture that, unless we view it from a spiritual perspective, will seem foolish to us. It didn’t make sense to Peter for Jesus to die. (Matthew 16:22) It was a preposterous and disgusting thought to him. How could the one, that he knew was the Messiah, die? Peter had an earthly perspective. He was viewing things from a carnal mind. Our own selfish desires cloud our vision and it is as if we have no spiritual eyes with which to see at all. If you cannot see, do not just go along pretending you have good vision. Instead, humble yourself and buy some glasses realizing that you are blind. This analogy works all except for the fact that Jesus has already purchased our vision for us if we would but repent, believe in Him and follow Him.
There are two possibilities for reasons why we are spiritually blind. One is that we have yet to be converted. When we are living and indulging in our sin, we are completely blind to the spiritual greatness of God and we settle for joys much less than the eternal hope and joy that are found in Him. How could we see the mission of God if we are blind to the glory of God himself fully displayed in Jesus Christ? It is impossible. The other possibility is that we are a Peter. Peter obviously was a Christ-follower. He had his obvious faults, but he was willing to die for the sake of the gospel, which in fact he did. However, Peter was blind to the grand and glorious purpose of God in Christ. His spiritual eyes were yet to be opened to see this glory, even though he did recognize Jesus as the Messiah. His carnal thoughts were limiting Jesus’ Messiahship to physical boundaries. We do this very same thing in our daily lives. While God has an eternal and glorious purpose to carry out through us, his church, we sit back and place physical limitations on God’s authority and power, only turning to him for physical concerns or for strength during earthly hardships. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this type of prayer or mindset unless there is an absence of the spiritual mindset filled with eternal concerns for the billions of people in this world. However, there is one we should imitate.
Now, when Jesus proclaimed that the Son of Man must be killed (Matthew 16:21), He was viewing this from a spiritual perspective and He was setting His sights on God and His grand purpose. You see, when this is done, miraculous, radical, life-altering, and possibly life-ending consequences result. However, despite our lack of sight (despite our sin), and actually in our lack of sight (in our sin), Jesus died for us. (Romans 5:8) This is God’s love on ultimate display. In order for us to realize, visualize, desire, and actually follow through with the mission of God that Jesus commissioned us with prior to His ascension, we must set our thoughts upon God and on a heavenly place. (Acts 1:8; Colossians 3:2) We must see the invisible and rejoice in it. (1 Peter 1:8) If we are going to call ourselves Christians, this is a must. It will be impossible for us to truly follow Christ while seeing only the physical. We will completely miss out on the purposes of God found in Christ. But, how do we get this vision?
We can’t! It is impossible with man, as Mark 10:27 says. We cannot cause ourselves to see with spiritual eyes the glory of God, the beauty of Christ, and the delightful duty of a Christ-follower. It literally is impossible. We would much rather set our sights on this physical world. This doesn’t always equate typical sin. Our eyes may be set on things such as ministry or charity work that provides great care for dire physical needs (by the way, these are both good things and are fruits that Christ-followers will produce). While we are providing for physical needs, patting ourselves on the back, our eyes are solely set on the physical. The reason isn’t that we are choosing not to see, but rather we are literally blind! One who is blind cannot see! It is impossible! With man, that is. Blinded, we are, by Satan. He has blinded us with good and bad things alike. He appeals to our human desires, which in and of themselves are not bad, yet he distorts them and causes us to sin. As long as he can keep our focus on the physical, he knows that we will remain blind to the spiritual, where the grand purpose of God lies.( 2 Corinthians 4:4) He keeps us from seeing the light of the gospel of Jesus. We cannot overcome this. It is impossible for us! BUT! Such beautiful contrast in this passage: “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) Oh, how glorious! I believe this is one of the most important verses in the entire Bible. God creates light out of darkness in your heart. He seeks and pursues you! He says to your spiritual eyes, “See!”
Stop trying to seek God and just turn into His pursuit of you, praying that He would engulf you with total desire for the things not seen. Pray for a desire to see the invisible. Wake each morning reminding yourself that while you live in a physical world, there is a spiritual world all around you. Prepare yourself for spiritual warfare. In order to carry out the mission of God to make disciples of all nations (people groups), we must have a desire to do it. In order to have a desire to make disciples of all nations and proclaim the glory of God to all ethnic groups, we must have spiritual eyes to see the vitality of the situation we all are in. In order to have the eyes to see, we must ask God to work a miracle. Ask God to create spiritual sight in you and me, unworthy, disgusting, rebellious sinners. Set your sights on things above. (Colossians 3:2) While they may not make sense to the world, these desires to carry out God’s mission will provide you with true, lasting spiritual joy!
May we see over these next few weeks the mission of God and pray to the Father that He create in us a desire to extend His grace and glory to the ends of the earth. May our desires be perfectly aligned with His. May we not only see dire physical poverty in our community and world, but also, maybe more importantly, see the dire spiritual poverty in our community and world. Without eyes, we cannot set our sights on things above. Ask God to give you the spiritual sight to see the invisible and have a desire that is motivated by a spiritual (realistic) purpose. Too much is at stake for us to sit back and live out our lives as nominal, self-centered, affiliated Christians. The eternity of billions of unreached peoples is at stake and more directly, your eternity is at stake. Trust in Jesus tonight. “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” – 2 Corinthians 4:15
By His Grace,