How do you see what can’t be seen?
A few days ago I was attending a meeting at the Prosper Library, located in the Reynolds Middle School. On my way into the building, I noticed students and staff had created a pinwheel garden near the door. There were, perhaps dozens, perhaps even a hundred of the multicolored pinwheels.
For several minutes I just stood there watching the pinwheels spinning. Some didn’t spin at all, some only occasionally, while a few of then spun almost constantly.
I thought about the breeze moving unseen among the pinwheels, dancing with them, enticing them to spin. As I watched, it occurred to me that I could not see the breeze, only its effects. That led me to consider the larger question, how do you see the invisible? How do you see things that are not visible?
In the movie “The Invisible Man,” the producers had to find a way for the audience to be able to see the invisible man – – when he was invisible. They resolved the issue by making sure the invisible man was dressed most of the time. We couldn’t see him; we could see the clothes he was wearing and knew that he was there.
Now, consider for a moment, black holes in space. Einstein’s theory of relativity suggested and predicted that they are out there, even if we can’t see them. Scientists are convinced there is a big, supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy from observing its effect on the motion of several nearby stars.
As part of his research, Lee Strobel examined the Gospels, as well as interviewed respected scientists and historians. Then, in his book, “A Case for Christ,” he makes several compelling arguments supporting the Bible’s claims about Christ. However, at least to my mind, the most compelling of his many arguments comes from the actions of the disciples themselves. Their lives were affected by their encounter with Jesus, just as the stars at the center of our galaxy are affected by the black hole there.
The disciples were devout Jewish men who essentially left the church of their birth to become the first Christians. It is the even more noteworthy when you consider the fact that they did this in a time when changing denominational alliances was not only discouraged, it could be outright deadly. It would take something as compelling as a face-to-face encounter with God incarnate to account for such an action.
In John 3:5-8, Jesus confirms what I was saying about the wind. You can’t see it, you can only feel it. “Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit,’” the text says. “‘You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.” The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’”
We can make the Holy Spirit visible to a world of doubters and unbelievers by the way we respond to God’s grace, and Christ’s command to love one another.
John R. Fowler. John is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Prosper.