The spiritual trumps the physical

Things that cannot be seen are as often as not more real than those that can be touched and handled. This fact has profound implications.

First let me give a sense of what I mean. Imaginary numbers are a relatively late mathematical development. They do not represent physical items such as stones or loaves of bread that we can actually pick up and handle, add to or take away from. Nonetheless, these “imaginary” entities are absolutely crucial to representing the full range of physical reality.

If you have seen the movie The Final Season, you know that it is based on the true story of the Norway, Iowa, baseball team. Norway, with a population of just five hundred, consistently produced state champions who defeated teams of larger, better funded, and seemingly more-talented schools. Realities that could not be seen or measured proved more important to victory than size or numbers.

Love, faith, determination, and bravery are invisible. Yet they have made an impact as great as armies. Jesus possessed of none of the visible trappings which are generally considered requisites for success: money, position, armies, lands. Yet on the strength of intangible characteristics, he created an impact that has steadily widened over two thousand years.

History is replete with examples of underdogs whose invisible, immeasurable attributes beat odds to triumph over superior foes. Joan of Arc comes to mind.

The Bible has something to say about this. Paul refers to the astonishing vitality of seeming nonexistent things in 1 Corinthians 1:29,29: “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God,” and again in 2 Corinthians 4:18 he says, “we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” In other words, the spiritual trumps the physical; the unseen trumps the seen.

Now I take such instances as a line of evidence to support the Bible’s contention that “what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Science itself now asserts that the universe was created out of nothing visible. Not surprisingly, then, a master/servant relationship exists between the spiritual and physical. Because it is more ultimate, the spiritual can trump the physical.