As a child of the 80s I grew up watching the TV show Thundercats. In that show there was a special sword called the Sword of Omens and it gave its wielder (Lion-O) many wonderful powers. One of these powers was the “sight beyond sight” which enabled Lion-O to see hidden things, find lost allies, and look at things far away. I grew up seeing this ability and wondering about how cool it might be. Now I have Google Earth on my phone, I can Skype or Facetime with family and friends over great distances, through social media I can find lost friends, and play games with augmented reality (AR). Time and technology have enabled me to see and do things that as a child watching Thundercats I could only dream of.
Religion, and religious belief, can do for us what the sword of omens did for Lion-O in enabling us to see with different eyes. Religion as I tend to define it is a system of beliefs that one uses in understanding the reality and one’s place within reality. “Organized religion” is simply a larger group whose beliefs are all relatively aligned with one another’s for communal exercise of those beliefs. Everyone is religious, because everyone operates according to what they believe about reality. Some of us may even have stated beliefs about reality that our behaviors contradict, but that’s another topic. None of us are exempt from religion and religious beliefs, because we all live and relate to reality. Therefore, we must have some beliefs about said reality (or un-reality as some might characterize it).
Christianity is one religion among many in our world. It’s tenets and practices are as diverse as the cultures in which it can be found. However there are a few universal truths that can be found among it’s adherents. I characterize them in four ideas: Good Creation, Rebellious Free-willed beings, the redemption of those Free-willed beings from their rebellion, and the restoration of that Good Creation (or maybe fulfillment of it).
There is one teaching I want to focus on because for me it demonstrates this “sight beyond sight” idea in a remarkable way. IT is the teaching that God is present in the stranger. You see it in many places in the Bible, and most pointedly in one of Jesus’ discussions with his disciples in Matthew 25. Jesus tells his disciples that a day will come when God will separate people like a shepherd does his sheep and goats. The people will be confused about why they are being separated, but Jesus will answer to them that every time they gave drink to the thirsty, food to the hungry, clothes to the naked, visited the sick and imprisoned, that they did it to him. What this tells me is that Jesus expects us to see him in the strangers around us. He expects us to have sight beyond sight, so that we will see God in our midst. Maybe in seeing others in this way we will learn to love them as God loves them. If Christians love God and want to love Jesus, then the key to this may simply be to imagine seeing Jesus as the person seeking asylum, seeking to be welcomed as a friend, sitting hungry on the street, shivering in the cold winter, living in a cell. This teaching of Jesus, for me, is central to being a Christian. It is also one that I struggle with on a daily basis. I don’t have a sword to give me sight beyond sight (unless you want to talk about the sword of the Spirit of God), but I have a responsibility to see my Lord in everyone I encounter, especially those who are in need. Will you pray with me that God would give you “sight beyond sight” so that you might see in others the very presence of God, and in so doing love them accordingly?