Winter Storm Jonas has dominated the news for days. Last week, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for parts of Maryland, Washington, Virginia, and West Virginia. Residents were told to expect significant travel delays, closures, and threats to life and property. Airlines began cancelling flights and allowing passengers to reschedule flights without extra fees.
All this before Jonas dropped a single snowflake. If meteorologists were limited to what they could see, obviously no one could predict tomorrow's weather today.
Another story making headlines is Planet Nine. Ten times more massive than Earth, this new planet is so distant from us that it takes 10,000 to 20,000 years to orbit the sun just once. Scientists cannot see it. They postulate its existence from its apparent effect on space rocks in its vicinity (specifically, six of the thirteen Kuiper belt objects).
Planet Nine is an example of reality we believe exists not because we can see it, but because we can see its effects. I cannot see the wind, but I can feel it on my face. I cannot see radio waves, but I can hear the music my car radio produces.
Let's apply this principle to our faith. I cannot see the Holy Spirit
, but I can see the changes he produces in my life and my fellow believers. I cannot see Jesus as he prays for me right now (Romans 8:34), but I can see the miraculous results of his intercession in my life. I cannot see our Father in heaven, but I can feel the joy of his forgiving grace.
C. S. Lewis was right: "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
Now it's our turn. I believe that God is especially pleased if we choose to obey him on those occasions when we can refuse and no one else will know. This insight came to me when I read in Genesis 21 that "Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, 'Isaac'" (v. 3).
"Isaac" means "laughter" and would remind the world that Sarah laughed at God when he promised her a son (Genesis 18:9–15). If Abraham had given his son another name, no one but Sarah and God would have known. But he chose to be obedient, and God was pleased (Romans 4:3).
If the Lord prompts you today to help someone in need, you can reject his call or you can obey it. No one else will know that you were called to help but refused. But those you choose to help will see God's love in yours. It's the same with sharing your faith or any other act of personal obedience. A culture that considers faith irrelevant is persuaded not by our beliefs or intentions but by our service.
So let's ask Jesus to give us his compassion for the needs we can meet. Our Lord touched lepers and called tax collectors by name. After his disciples were filled with his Spirit (Acts 2), they began doing the same practical ministry in his name (Acts 3). When we are surrendered to God's Spirit, we will manifest God's love.
Thomas Aquinas was one of the greatest theologians in history. Nonetheless, he stated, "I would rather feel compassion than know the meaning of it." So would I. So would you.
So will the next person you meet today.
Publication date: January 25, 2016
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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