Seeing things clearly
The ability to see was a significant theme in the teaching and ministry of Jesus. He demonstrated great compassion for the physically blind and restored their sight in many recorded Gospel accounts. Even more, he expressed great frustration for those who had eyes but could not see. Spiritual blindness was a major undercurrent in his criticism and challenge to the religious leaders of the times. He called them "blind guides" and warned, "And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit" (Matthew 15:14, ESV). Ain't it the truth!
With a broad brush Scripture portrays the ability to see in five very distinct categories:
1. Vision: revelation from God.
We all know the biblical warning, "where there is no vision the people perish"
(Proverbs 29:18). In this instance and throughout the Bible the idea of vision is
not about human strategies or plans, but is rather about the revealed things of
God. There is the reminder that God has not revealed everything but has given
us instruction and guidance for living the life intended by God (see
Deuteronomy 29:29). On occasion in redemptive history there was no vision
(see 1 Samuel 3:1). But, the writings of the New Testament affirm that God's
people will be guided by what is revealed by God (see 1 Corinthians 2:10).
2. Sight: the physical and spiritual ability to observe.
Sight doesn't always involve physical acuity. As attested by many great and
wise leaders in history even the blind can see in this manner. While teaching his
disciples one day Jesus said, "But blessed are your eyes for they see..."
(Matthew 13:16, ESV) obviously meaning that his disciples were given sight
about the issues of their day. Jesus enabled them to see what was going on
3. Insight: discerning the meaning of what is observed.
In Scripture this is usually called "discernment", that is, the spiritual ability to
distinguish right from wrong, good from bad, the primary from the secondary,
the essential from the indifferent , the good from the better, and perhaps the
better from the best. In many ways this could be the spiritual discipline of
finding meaning is what is seen. Some believers receive this insight as a
spiritual endowment from God (see 1 Corinthians 12:10, ESV). But, all of us
should develop it as a spiritual discipline (see 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, ESV).
4. Hindsight: the lessons of observation.
Most of us know that hindsight is 20/20, that is, a very accurate look at life by
reviewing the lessons of the past. it is also an instructive element of our life
learning. Paul wrote to the Ephesians about the look back, hindsight:
"Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the
uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh
by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ,
alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of
promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:11-12,
ESV). He wanted them to recall the past so that they could navigate the future
more effectively and by faith.
5. Foresight: application of the lessons of observation in the future.
Again, there's a cultural axiom most of us have learned: insanity is doing the
same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. This is the
spiritual blindness of not applying the lessons learned in hindsight, what I'm
calling foresight. Paul wrote to his companion Timothy, "But as for you,
continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from
whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with
the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith
in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:14-15, ESV ).
It's crazy in this election cycle, but many Americans are making their election decisions without clarity of vision and engagement of any of the vision disciplines that provide a clear view of the issues. One day at Starbucks I asked a table full of college students (1) are you going to vote?, (2) have you made your voting decisions?, and (3) how have you prepared yourself for making a wise choice of candidates? All of them were going to vote on November 6, half of them had decided their vote, and to the person they said they had listened to their friends and short bursts of network news in personal preparation. Perhaps that was unfair of me because they are college students and live in a time compressed world. My rose-colored vision wanted to hear about prayer, Bible study, reading of the party platforms, discussions about the big picture, or perhaps some history about elections in the past. So, I tried not to look disappointed, thanked them for their honest responses, and enjoyed my steaming Komodo Dragon. Mmmm.
So, we're just days away from the mid-term election of 2018 and I'm praying for clarity of vision about this critical election. I'm reminded of the day Jesus met blind Bartimaeus as he was leaving Jericho. Jesus called him over. This is a segment of their conversation---
Then Jesus answered him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
“Rabboni,”the blind man told Him, “I want to see!”
Mark 10: 51 IHCSB)
That's what I'm praying for as November 6 approaches. Join me?