7 min read

We all see life through a certain lens. A lens is an object that allows us to see clearly. It is used to correct the defects in our vision. Spiritually, we need a lens of faith to help us have vision. Without faith, our vision gets lost, and we will find ourselves just trying to make it in life.

The Battle to See God, Not People

Faith sees God; humanism sees only people.

Let’s read about a man in the Bible that we can learn from. He is they kind of guy most men would probably want to be like!

Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery.

Acts 8:9-11

Let’s identify 4 things that Simon loved:

  1. He loved the idea of being great (He boasted about it!)
  2. He loved attention from people (He so loved it so much, he didn’t mind being compared to God!)
  3. He loved having people follow him
  4. He loved to amaze people

Do you relate to any of these?

Now, we may not practice sorcery like Simon, but we usually still have things we use to get attention for ourselves:

  • Some people use good looks to draw people to themselves
  • Some people use their body to draw people to themselves
  • Some people use their musical talents to draw people to themselves
  • Some people use their athletic abilities to draw people to themselves
  • Some people use their intellectual abilities to draw people to themselves
  • Some people use their social skills to draw people to themselves

But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

Acts 8:12-13 (NIV)

Simon’s battle was to see God, not people. He got baptized but he was more amazed by what people did than his personal friendship with God. He saw people more than God.

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

Acts 8:20-23 (NIV)

Dealing With the Inside Life

Why was Simon so in love with the idea of being great, getting attention from people, and having people following him?
The answer is in verse 23: For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.

There are two very important questions that we need to ask ourselves from this passage:

  1. Simon was full of bitterness – What is your heart full of? Faith? Fear? Jealousy? Bitterness?
  2. What sins can hold you captive?

Until we honestly answer these questions, we can never win the battle to see God more than people.

Identify Bitterness

The Bible says that Simon was full of bitterness and captive to sin. Bitterness is one sin that will kill our ability to live by faith.

Why do we get bitter? There are many reasons, but from Simon’s life we learn that we can get bitter when we are trying to please people and it doesn’t work.

You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.

Acts 8:21

Peter was not kicking Simon out of the church. He’s saying that Simon’s sin is disconnecting him from the ministry and corrupting his heart! Simon couldn’t see God and he couldn’t connect with people. When we get detached from our relationships, we have to look at what is corrupting our hearts. When you feel detached from people, do you look at your own heart or look for things to blame in the people around you?

We will easily get bitter if we spend our time focusing on the people around us and what they have done wrong to us, or how they have it better than us. For example:

  • Your health is challenging so you are bitter
  • Family members are physically, mentally, or emotionally challenged and so you are bitter
  • You lost a loved one and so you are bitter
  • You went thru a very hard time, so you are bitter
  • School is hard for you, so you are bitter
  • You aren’t dating, so you are bitter
  • You aren’t married, so you are bitter
  • You are married, so you are bitter

Truth be told, life can bring pain and without God, we have no choice but to get bitter.

So what do we do with the pain we experience? How can we learn to see God through difficult times instead of getting bitter? The answer I believe lies in finding a purpose in our pain.

Purpose Trumps Pain

12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Acts 8:12 (NIV)

Everyone wants to be great. Everyone wants to matter. That’s why people followed Simon in the first place – because he claimed to be great! However, when they found about the Kingdom of God and Jesus, they got a personal vision greater than what they heard from Simon. The message they heard from Philip allowed them to understand that there is more to life. They started to live and see life through the lens of faith!

‘The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.’

Mark Twain

Why must we deal with our bitterness because it blocks our ability to see God. And when we don’t see God, we miss out on why we were born. Without God, you can’t discover the greater meaning for your life – why were you born on the day you were born, in the place where you were born? Why do you live where you do now? What is your purpose here on this earth? What are you meant to contribute?

Did you know that God has a very specific, unique purpose for your life?

Did you know that your pain, suffering, sins and choices are all part of you finding God and discovering your purpose? When we fight to see God more than the people around us, we will be able to overcome bitterness and discover our greater purpose.

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:9-10 (NIV)

What’s a masterpiece? It is a person’s greatest piece of work, done with outstanding skill and workmanship. That is how God sees us. He has great feelings for us! Just like the great artists of our time cherish their work, God really loves and admires and cares about us.

One practical decision we can each make to see life through a lens of faith is to study the Bible for ourselves. Attend one of our six services around the Bay Area to get connected to a group of friends who can help you learn to see God and discover your greater purpose in life.

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Martin Oji

Martin Oji

Martin Oji is a contributor to BACC Inspire. He works with college students and young professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. Martin is the 4th best basketball player on the Inspire roster.

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