Keep Looking at the Unseen!
Coming from England, the birthplace of soccer (or football as it is called there), I maintain an interest in "the beautiful game." As I read this story online today, my first thought was that this must be some elaborate joke, but apparantly this is real. The World Blind Soccer Championship is taking place right now in Argentina (please check out the story on the CNN web site here). All players (excluding the goalkeepers) are legally blind, they use a ball which sounds like a rattlesnake, the crowd isn't allowed to make too much noise to help the players hear the sounds around them, and they play on a hard surface rather than grass for the same reason... Those who observe this spectacle, are amazed at how sightless players are so attuned to the sounds, vibrations and the quick-changing position of their opponents and adjust accordingly. These highly gifted players are extremely attuned to their surroundings, making lightning fast decisions based on the kind of sounds and noises they are hearing at the time.
As I read the story, I have to admit, my imagination kicked into gear as I pictured myself being in the stands of the stadium, really trying to get into the spirit of the game. I've got a pretty good imagination and I laughed out loud as I imagined obnoxious fans around me shouting out at the referee when they didn't agree with a call... something like, "O come on ref, are you a SEEING PERSON or something!!!" or "hey ref, your SEEING EYE DOG isn't real!!!"
Reading this today reminded me of our calling as Christians. While we live in our earthly tents (as Paul refers to our bodies in 2 Corinthains 5), we are not blind to the things of this world. Far from it in fact! We can see the enticements this world offers us, we are faced with temptations on the right hand and the left... temptations to sin, to compromise, both in moral action and also in public proclamation. The temptations to sin are obvious to us... what is often times more subtle is the temptation to tone the message down and fit in with the crowd, whether the crowd be the people of this world, or whether they be fellow Christians. For each of us though, our Christian call is to live by a higher authority, a governing principle, that keeps us honest when no one around us would notice our duplicity, and keeps us faithful when no one but the Lord is watching us. This governing principle is Christ Himself and His revealed word to us in the holy Scriptures. We are to base our lives not according to the transitory, temporal things of this world, but according to the fixed and eternal things of Christ and His kingdom.
But isn't this our struggle? Both the eternal riches of Christ... and even Christ's present day Kingly reign are unobservable to the senses. We don't yet see these things with our physical eyes.. we don't yet see Christ on the throne or hear His audible voice, though one day we will. While we live on earth we do not live in heaven. There our faith will be sight. Here, "we walk by faith not by sight." (2 Cor. 5:7)
In this our earthly struggle to live by the dictates of the unseen, may the story of the blind soccer players renew and refresh us in our heavenly calling to live our lives "seeing Him who is invisible." (Heb. 11:27)
"... so we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Cor. 4:16-18 (ESV)
Selah! (Stop, think, pause and meditate)
Pastor John Samson