Posted: 8/11/20 at 2:00pm. Column by Ed Jordan.
Sometimes while I am reading, I notice that the words are blurred. My first thought is that I need new glasses. Then I hold my glasses up to a light and realize how dirty my lenses are. After cleaning the lenses, I can suddenly see clearly again. Sweat, body oil, or smudges on our glasses make dramatic changes in what we can see, and in what we think we see.
Our physical perception is influenced by the clarity and quality of our lenses, either spectacles we wear or the natural lenses embedded in our eyes. If your glasses are ground improperly, your lenses will not correct or improve your vision. If the lens gets dirty, everything is distorted and blurred. We need to regularly examine and clean our glass lenses to keep our vision clear.
The same thing goes for our spiritual vision. The smallest thing can blur our vision, so we need to keep our spiritual lenses clean. In Matthew 6:22-23 (The Message), Jesus said: “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!”
Spiritually, when our perception is distorted, or our lives get coated with grime, the light within us is blurred and unhelpful. Jesus provides us with a thorough cleansing whenever we put our lives into his hands and ask for it. In John 1:9 we read that if we confess our sins (agree with God about the sin and distortion in our life), God is faithful and just to forgive us from those sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Then we can see clearly again. We gain cleansing by turning to Jesus in prayer, talking with him honestly about our lives, allowing him to show us the smudges that need to be cleaned, and giving ourselves to him for cleansing.
Another area of our thinking that leads to distorted vision are the biases we all have. Our biases are the lenses through which we view the world. Jesus illustrated this in Matthew 7:3 (CSB) when He said, “Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye?”
Our biases are so much a part of us that we don’t realize how much they influence what we see. This is what Jesus meant when he said you can see the little piece of sawdust in another person’s eye, but you have a wood beam sticking out of your eye and don’t even notice it. We are all guilty of this at times. People obsessed with cleanliness see dirt everywhere; people obsessed with fear distrust everyone. People obsessed with politics see extremism in others, but not in themselves. People obsessed with propriety see impropriety everywhere; people obsessed with health see danger everywhere. People obsessed with death forget how to live.
Let’s illustrate this with a camera lens: A macro lens allows you to zoom in on a very small object and fill the photo with a super-enlarged image, let’s say, of a tiny flower. The flower looks huge and very detailed because the focus is in close. But the edges of the photo are out of focus and out of context. In the same way, many of us get so focused in on one thing, like that enlarged flower, that we miss the fragrant garden which surrounds us.
I wonder how often this happens in our lives every day. We live in a time when few people are seeing clearly. We think we are seeing the world without bias or distortion, only to find that our vision needs cleaning and correcting. There are both external and internal factors that influence what lens we use to view life, and both must be closely examined to understand why we see what we see.
So clean your lenses! Or better yet, let Jesus be the eye doctor who can clean and correct your vision so you can see things his way. What a serene and fulfilling life we can lead, if we let him fill our eyes with his light!