“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.” Jesus – Matthew 13:16-17
When I was young I admired and respected our pastor in many ways. But he loved the comfortable status quo and was so unsettled by controversy he often missed key opportunities to minister to people in profound need. Rather than inviting the love of Jesus into difficult situations he simply closed his eyes and pretended they did not exist.
One day a young family approached him because their child was struggling with a thorny issue. The teenager was deeply conflicted and desperate for counsel, but the preacher put on his blinders and sent them away. “We don’t have those kinds of problems in this church,” he said, then closed the door on the conversation.
We have eyes but we do not see:
Maybe it’s because I’m a photographer as well as a writer, but the idea of how we frame up a picture is always at the front of my thinking. Not just seeing, but clarity; not just clarity but the lens we look through, how we focus, the kind of filters we use – and if we even have our eyes open.
What we see often depends on how we see, and if – in the final analysis – we’re really even looking at all.
So a couple of days ago I took my dad to his eye doctor for some tests. Dr. Yoakum was expert, attentive, and very helpful, but what really caught my eye was the equipment he used to fine-tune his calibrations during the exam.
When I think about seeing, I typically think about a pair of eyes, simple and straightforward. But this thing looked like a control board at the Kennedy Space Center. Then it hit me – it’s the perfect illustration for how we so often look at the world.
So many of us are encumbered with the spiritual equivalent of three hundred pounds of equipment fixed to the front of our faces, peering through filters like “pride,” “income,” “prejudice,” “ignorance,” selfishness,” “nostalgia,” “rose-colored glasses,” “bias,” “politics,” “preemptive judgment,” and more.
Dr. Yoakum kept leaning in and saying things like, “when I turn this dial is the image more clear or less clear?” and, “do you prefer this view… or this?”
Those are good questions because dad’s eyes are not working so well anymore. But the stuff we so often look at the world through – the filters and perspectives that tend to sow discord and division – only serve to confuse, to distort, to cloud, and to weigh us down.
What we need is spiritual clarity, and that can only come through asking Jesus to heal our sight. When Jesus made the blind man see the Bible says “the scales fell from his eyes.” I believe we are too loaded down with scales; I believe Jesus us inviting us to look at the world through his eyes.
I believe that when we begin to see each other absent the heavy filters we will discover we have less to fear than we imagined.