Thursday, April 18, 2013

Seeing is Believing?

Philosophy. As boring as the word may sound, philosophies throughout history have had a large impact on people. Many times without people even noticing, philosophies have been embedded and infused into cultures. Simply put,  a philosophy is a way of thinking. There have been many different ways of thinking throughout history, many of which are contrary to the Word of God. We as Christians need to be aware of these philosophies. Sometimes we wonder why it can be so difficult to be a Christian in America today. I hope to shed some light on a certain way of thinking that has been implanted in our culture, and that very much affects our thinking and analysis process.

There was a guy that lived in the 300's B.C. named Aristotle. I am sure you have at least heard of him. He had the idea that we can only know something is real if we can experience it through our fives senses. For example, in examining whether or not the electronic device that you are using is real, we must ask these questions: Can you see it? Can you hear it? Can you feel it? Can you taste it? Can you smell it? Your computer or smart phone is only real if you can experience it through your senses, or at least one of them.

A very simple way of putting this way of thinking, or philosophy, is a phrase that every person has heard before in reference to Santa: "Seeing is believing." It's the idea that if you cannot see something, or experience it with your senses, it's not real! This is an idea that is very much alive in America and the world today.

Now, this is where we run into a problem. For in Hebrews 11:1 we read: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and CERTAIN of what we DO NOT SEE." Faith is a central focus in the Bible. Our relationship with God hinges upon our faith. Faith is believing in something you cannot see! Or, experience with your five senses! Generally speaking, we can't physically see God, hear Him, taste Him, smell Him, or touch Him! However, faith is still believing, even when our five senses deny His existence. This is completely contradictory to Aristotle's philosophy.

Aristotle was Greek, which meant he first influenced the Greeks. However, his way of thinking soon spread to other people within the Greek empire. The Greek way of thinking was infused into the lives of the people over time. Therefore, when the New Testament was written, this philosophy of Aristotle was everywhere. Paul even addresses this way of thinking in relation to the message of the cross, in 1 Corinthians 1:20-25. Read this, and it will make a lot of sense considering Aristotle's way of thinking:

From this passage we see that mankind's wisdom will fail. The Greeks and the Jews are both pointed out here. The truth is, their ways of thinking were not much different from one another, because the Jews had been infused with much of Greek culture. It says in this passage that the Jews were demanding "signs" from God. They wanted to "see" before they "believed." I think this is true for much of us and other people today. We want to see with our eyes what God can do before we believe. While that does happen, and many people do believe because of what they have seen (i.e. Miracles), God tells us to believe even if we have not seen! That is what true faith is!

What we believe goes against the wisdom and philosophies of man, specifically this philosophy of Aristotle. We have wisdom from God. Therefore, let us stand on God's wisdom, not on the wisdom of this world. For, man's wisdom is foolishness compared to God's. The world rejects what we believe, and we should expect that! 1 Corinthians 1:18 says that "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing." If you are a Christian, God has opened your eyes to His wisdom; to truth, and reality. However, we all have people around us who still consider our beliefs to be foolish. This should be expected that they see it as foolish, but we need to pray for them. Each of us believers were once lost, but now we are found! We at one time believed the wisdom of this world, but now we believe the wisdom and truth of God! Be encouraged by this today, but may it humble you as well. Stay strong in the faith, and do not let the wisdom of this world sway you from truth.

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