“Seeing is believing.” It’s a common phrase, thrown around without much thought. Three little words that leave no room for negotiation or qualification. But is it true? Looking online for other perspectives on this question, I appreciated Brandon Stanton’s response. Stanton, author of the enormously insightful blog, “Humans of New York,* responded to the question of the veracity of the phrase, “seeing is believing”, with this observation:
“What’s something about the eye that most people don’t realize? The eye doesn’t see. The brain sees. The eye just transmits. So what we see isn’t only determined by what comes through the eyes. What we see is affected by our memories, our feelings, and by what we’ve seen before.”
In other words, our perceptions are impacted by our past experiences and overall mindset.
Certainly, in Jesus’s day, seeing was not necessarily believing. There were many who heard Him teach and witnessed many of the miracles He performed, yet never embraced Him as the Christ. When it comes to faith, unless the heart is open to conviction and being changed, seeing is not necessarily believing.
As my husband and I traveled this year, I was continually struck by how our perceptions influence what we “see.” This was most strongly brought to my attention during a group tour. (You know, one of those–“See All of Europe (without sleeping) in 17 Days” tours.) Actually, our trip was intense but it was great. We saw and experienced all that we had hoped to (and then some!) The bonus for us was traveling with 32 people we had never met before. Traveling together on planes, trains, tour buses and boats for nearly three weeks enhanced our experience immensely.
But there was one aspect that I struggled with during our shared journey. As we traveled we enjoyed amazing weather–everything we had read urged visitors to bring an umbrella, because it rained a lot everywhere we were going. Yet, in the nearly three weeks we traveled together, it rained two mornings! Sadly, the most common response to that gift were remarks about “how lucky” we were. When I pointed to God as the source of that blessing, I largely received blank stares. To be fair, I don’t know how many in our group were Christians, so I’m not condemning them. However, it is not uncommon in “Christian circles” for some to bear tribute to “good luck” for the blessings in their lives. This may may seem trivial, but in a secular world that has increasingly marginalized God, IT MATTERS!
Consider the perspective of Apostle Paul as he wrote to Believers in Rome:
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven
against all the godlessness and wickedness of men,
who suppress the truth by their wickedness–
since what may be known about God is plain to them,
because God has made it plain to them.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—
His eternal power and divine nature—
have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,
so that people are without excuse.
For although they knew God,
they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him,
but their thinking became futile and
their foolish hearts were darkened.”
How do you respond when you watch a sunset? I invite you to slow down and consider the perspective Scripture provides:
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
the skies proclaim the work of His Hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard,
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
So, what do you see when you look at the sky?
Mere chance . . . or God’s Glory?
If it’s the glorious evidences of God’s handiwork that you see,
then PRAISE HIM with all of your heart!
All to His Glory!
*“Humans of New York“, sensitively features ordinary people Stanton meets on the streets of New York City,“one story at a time.”