A couple of Sundays ago a phrase in my pastor's sermon struck me. He was talking about John 4:35, where the fields were already ripe for the harvest, although they thought the harvest was still four months out. "Jesus sees from the other side of faith," he said. Hm, that is true a lot, I thought. Jesus saw redemption where the world saw prostitutes and tax collectors. He saw provision where the disciples could only see that they had forgotten to take bread (Mk. 8,16). He sees the heart, we see the outside. The list is endless.
The only remedy seems to begin seeing like Jesus, and the only way to do that is simply by asking in faith. It's like that song, "Open the eyes of my heart, Lord," only on a more permanent basis. When I prayed this prayer, "Give me your eyes, Lord," I sensed the Lord asking, "Do you really want this?", and when I said yes, He reminded me of 1 John 5,14-15 and I had faith that He heard me and is answering that prayer.
At first I thought He would give me deep insights into the needs of people I met (and He might well do that at some point) or enable me to have a positive attitude of faith about everything. Alas, I'm still as blind to the spiritual needs of those around me and how I could meet them, and only occasionally do I seem to have a bit more faith. (But then, it's been only nine days since my prayer.)
Have you ever wrestled with a Scripture or a passage, wondering what on earth it means, and the harder you try the less you seem to understand it? For years, Romans 6 with its insistence that I had died with Christ was such a passage for me. No matter how hard I tried, I didn't feel dead, and besides, when would that have happened? How could it have happened at the cross, when I wasn't even born yet?
This morning the Holy Spirit has been showing me that I've been going about it all wrong. I've been trying to understand with my mind first and then engage the heart. But it is the heart that needs to understand first (another word for "believing with the heart"), and then the mind will catch on.
And then He just about blew me away when He opened my eyes to John 3:5, and I saw it with the eyes of Jesus: "... unless one is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." This familiar verse has been interpreted in various ways when it talks about being "born of water." It hit me that both parts, the birth of the Spirit and the birth of water, are spiritual events. Jesus is talking of water baptism here, something He always stressed as being necessary for being saved (Mk. 16, 16). (The fact that there are exceptions to the rule, like the thief on the cross, doesn't mean it's not mandatory for believers.) Moreover, Romans 6:3-4 tells us that through our baptism we were baptized into Christ's death and buried with Him, so that we could walk in newness of life. Our baptism is the point of contact where our old self dies with Christ on the cross and we no longer live (Gal. 2,20). We are born again and enter the Kingdom of God.
I've been baptized as a believer more than 30 years ago, but I believe this is true even if I wasn't aware of it at the time. God has been faithful to do His part to join me ito Christ's death and bury the old self. Now He's beginning to open my eyes to this powerful truth, and I understand why Paul can exhort us to put off the old self like filthy rags and put on the garments of the new self which is being made to be like Christ. I wonder what this will mean on a daily basis...? I'm excited to find out more about it as I'm seeing a little more with the eyes of Jesus each day.