So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
I pass by the third homeless person on Mass Avenue and do not stop to give him any change.
A few lonely coins rattle around the bottom of his grimy Big Gulp cup as I cruise to the subway stop. How does my faith guide me in this moment? If the kingdom of God is seen in the least among us, what have I just missed? What have I just refused to see as I passed by the stranger asking for spare change?
What’s the meaning of faith when we don’t even recognize the kingdom of God when it stretches its very hand out to us? Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Faith is being… Certain of what we do not see.”
How can I be “faithful” in that sense when I can’t even acknowledge when God is visibly, physically reaching out to me on the street corner?
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 reminds us, “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us and eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Is this passage meant to give hope to the homeless man in Harvard Square? Or is it a sentence of condemnation for me?
If you want to get biblical about it, the homeless man and I are the same person. We are all broken, all beggars, without hierarchy. Whether for spare change, for food, for mercy, forgiveness — we are all begging, desperate and in need. We all must reveal our desperation and open ourselves up to receiving grace. And we are all called to be Christ’s hands in those moments — stopping, bending down and serving.
If Christ is true, if the gospel is true, it would seem that seeing Christ in the begger as well as seeing the beggar in me reflects the reality of what Paul tells Corinthians is both “eternal” and “unseen.”
As we embrace, by faith, the reality of God that stands (or sits or begs) in front of us, we are in that moment living for another world, a true world. In that moment, we are echoing our belief that the pleasure of God’s reality — what Paul calls “eternal glory” — is more authentic than what is seen in the world illusion and delusions grabbing for our allegiance. Perhaps being faithful is believing and living like there is truly no difference between any of us.
Lord, I confess to you that I am just as weak and broken as those who I perceive as being needy. I fully receive your grace. Help me to live for “eternal glory” by serving those around me.