“You cannot go on seeing through things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. . . . If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To see through all things is the same as not to see.” – C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
‘When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven.‘ ” Jesus, Mark 4:12
Today is a holy day for both Christians and Jews. For Jews it marks the beginning of Passover, which marks the day that death passed over the ancient Hebrews before their exodus from Egypt. Christians recognize today as Good Friday, which marks the day that Jesus Christ died, nailed to a cross. On the first Passover, the Hebrews marked their doors with lamb’s blood as a sign that they were God’s people, not meant to taste the sting of death. On the day that Jesus was nailed to a cross, his blood poured out for all who would accept him. He is called the Lamb of God, and his blood was willfully shed for God’s people so that they could have his life. Blood is life, and Christians get their life from God. Good Friday, the day Jesus allowed himself to die, is both terrible and wonderful for the ones who see it. But for those who see right through it, there is only the sight of a mythical fool going to his death, never to rise and therefore never to have any importance to them.
It is good to question things. No one wants to be accused of gullibility. It is also good to test things. Why accept anything on blind faith? There is a widespread belief that faith is incompatible with reason and sanity. And there are plenty of religious people out there that only reinforce the stereotype. Just watch a movie like Religulous by Bill Maher. It looks like he had an easy time finding some ignorant people who supported his bias against the sanity of Christians. Once again, they’re out there. If you want to feel better about rejecting Jesus Christ, I can understand honing in on some of his less admirable followers to back up your own beliefs. Even Gandhi did it. “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
The real test of one who pursues more truth and understanding comes when you’re willing to accept the full humanity of another who believes something different. If you’re simply “seeing through” the person you’re speaking to, you’re not really seeing them. If all you see is a silly or ignorant person, you dismiss them without much of a thought. I struggle with this, as most of us do, but I also take steps to really see where others are coming from. This is not because I’m looking to find a more appealing thing to believe in. My faith in the actual person of Jesus Christ is firmly implanted in me, and I not only let it grow, but want it to grow. Truthfully, it is this faith, which softens my pride, that even allows me to engage in discussion without popping a blood vessel.
There are many things you can choose to believe in: many philosophies you can choose to accept: many people you can choose to agree with. But I would warn you against the exercise of seeing through everything. That would mean declaring the death of God and truth in the world and looking past anything that might challenge your position. I remember taking a Bible as Literature course and the professor assuring us that we would not be approaching the book with any religious bias. That’s great, but what about the bias that assumes the book isn’t true? How is that really open-minded? And furthermore, how does that take into account the purpose of the book in the first place? To approach the bible as an old book of fairy tales is to not approach the bible at all.
I would encourage you to look at the story of Jesus and a teacher named Nicodemus, from the Book of John. It is at the start of chapter 3. It is one of my favorite parts of the whole bible because it is a one to one discussion between an open-minded religious leader and the man who claims to be God’s son. You see, many religious leaders throughout the story of Jesus are arrogant and close-minded and Jesus doesn’t share this kind of dialogue with them. They simply wouldn’t want it anyway. But this guy, Nicodemus, he is interested by what Jesus has to say and Jesus is more than willing to spend time talking about many things.
So today is the day Christians remember the death of God on a wooden cross. They see more there than an entire lifetime could contain. They see a hard truth about this world, and an even harder truth about their own. The world is ripe with evil and pain and death, and these things come to us too, eventually.
But Sunday is Easter.
And two-thousand years ago the son of God saw the first sunrise of a new age on this earth.
“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.” C.S. Lewis The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses