Are you Viewing the Physical or the Spiritual?


Are you Viewing the Physical or the Spiritual?

Richard Hollerman

We are in the physical body and too often we see things only from the outward, physical perspective. We seem to be bound to the “here and now” and are tied to what we see with our eyes. We fail to look at things the way God surely must look at them.

We get glimpses of this dichotomy in various scriptures.  For instance, Paul writes, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). As humans, sometimes we are limited to sight—what we see with our eyes—and we fail to have the faith to go beyond this. Later in the same chapter, Paul says, “From now on we recognize no one according to the flesh” (v. 16a). He once viewed Jesus from a human standpoint, but later he came to see that Jesus was indeed the risen, victorious Son of the Living God (v. 16b).

In the previous chapter, the apostle also says, “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). Although these various verses have different shades of meaning, they do emphasize that we need faith to see beyond the obvious, beyond what we can see with our eyes.

Another chief passage on this matter is found at Isaiah 55:8-9. God says: “’My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” Do we seek to look at life and events on earth from God’s perspective or are we content to see them the way that most other people do? What do we see when we see? Do we really see things spiritually—or only physically?

This has come to my attention recently, as late as this morning as I considered the news. Think along with me. You are probably aware that most people are following the disappearance of the Malaysian aircraft carrying 239 persons on board with the intention of reaching China. But the plane just seemed to disappear, under mysterious circumstances. A dozen or more nations have been scouring the land and especially the Indian Ocean to find any trace of the plane’s disappearance. This tragedy has aroused unprecedented interest coverage from the news media and, thus far, the plane has not been found. Apparently all 239 passengers and crew have died.

But how many of us have considered the fact that probably most (or all) of these people are now in a place of “torment” and “agony” (cf. Luke 16:23, 24, 25)? Do we merely see this apparent crash as the loss of 239 people physically or are we also very aware of the spiritual—and eternal—loss of most or all of these people? Do we see things from a physical viewpoint or also from a spiritual viewpoint—as God sees reality?

Notice another example. This morning, as I walked early in the day, I listened to an hour-long program that discussed the condition of healthcare in the nation’s hospitals. One speaker pointed out that there may be as many as 440,000 preventable deaths in America’s hospitals. This would include misdiagnoses, bacterial contamination, taking the wrong medications, and other causes. Whether this statistic is correct or not, we all know that there are numerous unfortunate deaths in hospitals (but, of course, there are many, many more people who have received needed treatments in the nation’s healthcare system).

When we think of these several hundred thousand people, do we only think of their physical death and the loss of physical life? Do we only think of the many funerals and the pain of the families? Or do we go beyond this and remember that the vast majority of these people were in sin, were lost, and were separated from God? Do we recognize the fact that without Christ, people do “die in their sins” (John 8:24) and face the consequences of their sins—eternal separation from God (Romans 2:4-11; 6:23)? Do we merely look at the physical—or do we remember the spiritual?

Another news item has been circulating for the last couple of days.  Some of you have read of the tragic death of Thomas H. Saunder, the 62-year-old man who was taking a vacation in Panama City Beach, Florida with his girlfriend and daughter and her friends.  The report has it that he fell over 100 feet from the balcony of his hotel. Of course, he died. Whatever the reason for his fall (some would say a stroke caused it), the story made the front page of the local news.

But, as in the previous cases, do we only think of how sad it was that this poor man fell such a distance to his death? Do we also remember that he—like everyone else—was destined to die and face God in judgment (Hebrews 9:27)? If he didn’t know Christ Jesus as His personal sin-bearer and wasn’t living for Him, then there is no hope. One who dies without Jesus cannot go to God in heaven (John 14:6). Do we see this—or only the physical?

In the last months, I’ve gone to several funerals or heard of certain deaths of people I’ve known. We rightly mourn the loss and remember the person as they were when alive. We grieve over the dead body as we go to the funeral viewing. But are we much more concerned about the person’s eternal destiny? We know that the majority of people are on the broad way that leads to destruction, whereas only the few are on the narrow what that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). Does this concern us? Do we look beyond the physical to the spiritual? Do we view things merely from a worldly standpoint or also from an eternal viewpoint?

We understand that the physical aspects of life are important. God has created our body and expects us to care for it (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Our physical body is made and given by God (Psalm 139:14). But what about the spiritual?  Are we viewing reality as God does? How can we do this? We can see things as He does by going to the source of Truth—God’s written revelation in the Bible.

Are we willing to do this when we learn of a local, national, or world tragedy? Will we do it when someone in our own family or among our friends dies? Let’s view things as God does.



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