Wednesday, December 3, 2008

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The Joy of Sight

I wear glasses, and while my vision is not horrible without them, I certainly cannot see far away and could not drive a car without them.  I do not wear them, however, around the house or when I am reading or doing something else where I want to see close up.  Some people can't function at all without corrective lenses and other people don't need them.  Others are blind, though I can't imagine what it would be like to go through life without the gift of sight.  What would it be like not to be able to see?  Jesus said:

"No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl.  Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.  Your eye is the lamp of your body.  When your eyes are good, you whole body is full of light.  But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.  See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.  Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it is dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you" (Luke 11:33-36).

In the gospel of Matthew, these two thoughts are separated.  We are the light of the world and we are to "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).  The part about the eye being the lamp of the body is then contained in a discussion about your heart being in the same place as what you treasure and the fact that we cannot serve to masters.  What is clear is that clear seeing is important, and Dr. Luke of all people knew that this was important.  Being able to see is important.  Being able to see clearly is essential.

It should be obvious to all of us that Jesus is here talking about spiritual seeing but how do we ensure that our spiritual sight is clear?  What are the things that we can do to guarantee that we are seeing correctly?

The first thing is to turn the light on.  Have you ever tried to make your way around in the dark?  Some people are better at it than others.  I am horrible.  I will almost invariably bump into something even if I saw it in the light the day before.  In the dark, I can see nothing.  Scripture says that the only way to do well in this life is to "walk in the light as he is in the light" (1 John 1:7).  That is what will keep us from sin, from falling short, from tripping over all of those things that exist in the dark.  We are to "fix our eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2) and look to the "true light that gives light to every man" (John 1:9).  The only reason that I don't want to turn the light on spiritually is that I am trying to hide something or trying to hide myself (see John 3:19).  No, if I am going to see clearly, I have to come completely into the light.  I have to say with the seekers who came to Phillip and said, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus" (John 12:20).  I have to acknowledge that I will not be able to see clearly without that vision of God (see the November 1/08 Faith Challenge), without seeing Jesus and God's Holy Spirit in my life.  And, I will not be able to find my way without his word either, since "your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105, see also Psalm 119:9).  I must see Jesus the Word of God and the Light of the World if I am to see clearly.

Clear spiritual sight is also about seeing others clearly.  In that great passage that holds Jesus up as our supreme example we are told that we are to, "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3-4).  We are to see others.  We are to open our eyes and look.  Jesus was moved with compassion, but that followed his "seeing" the multitudes.  Really seeing them.  Like the difference between hearing only and really listening, we are not just to have others in our visual recognition but are to really see them.  I must confess that I have trouble with this one in particular.  So often I don't see.  I don't take the time or put in the energy to see.  I look only to my own interests.  And God says, open your eyes and see, the fields are white unto harvest.  But nothing will happen until we open our eyes.  Like the lamp that is hidden or the light that is under a bowl, so are we when we don't look around us.  Our eyes are open but they see nothing because we have hidden ourselves away.  Jesus saw those around him, he even went looking for those who weren't readily visible like a shepherd looking for a lost sheep.  We need to see others if we are to have clear vision.

And yes, we are to see ourselves.  Clearly.  Not with rose-colored glasses.  Honestly.  "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought," Paul says, "but rather think of yourself [see yourself] with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you" (Romans 12:3).  We are not worms but we are not the savior either.  We need to take an honest look at ourselves in the mirror of God's law and not just go away and forget what we saw either (see James 1:22-25).  Having seen clearly, we can change what we can and God can change other things.  We are saved through grace, not through anything that we have done.  God, make me into the person that you created me to be and become.

Someone said years ago that joy is simply J-O-Y, and stands for Jesus, Others, You, in that order.  The "JOY" of sight, the kind of clear sight that Dr. Luke said was important, is that we see Jesus (and having seen him, the Father and the Holy Spirit too), that we see others and hold them in high esteem, and that we see ourselves, not as perfect perhaps but as a masterpiece that God is in the process of sculpting into the image of his Son.  That is the JOY of sight.  May we see clearly in all areas of life.  When your eyes are good, your whole body is full of light, the true light that enlightens everyone.

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