September 5, 2007

Wow! I can See!

This may seem childlike, but occasionally I try to do things with my eyes closed, as if I were blind. Because I’ve had sight, I know where my stuff is and what my house looks like, but I cannot imagine how a person born blind would experience their world.

Some I’ve shared this habit with look at me as if I were insane. Pretending to be blind? Are you nuts? But I don’t care; this exercise makes me appreciate being able to see and even though I still complain about the cost of eyeglasses, I do take care of my eyes.

Spiritual vision is not quite the same as physically seeing, but there are parallels. As far as our spirits go, everyone is born blind to the things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’” We are born without any capacity to grasp spiritual realities.

A spiritually blind person cannot hear spiritual realities either. In the physical world, I’ve tried to feign deafness (like when the neighbor’s dogs bark in the middle of the night), but even the best ear plugs make deafness impossible. Spiritual deafness is not total deafness either; more like “selective hearing.” Those spiritually blind can hear all sorts of things, but are simply unable to hear God speak, or hear any truth about Him and His kingdom.

When I pretend to be blind, I know what the sharp corner of a desk looks like, or how steep a stairwell is because I remember what it’s like to see and can avoid those dangers. I also know the beauty of a sunset and while I miss that in my artificial blindness, my imagination makes up for it, at least a little bit. However, a spiritually blind person cannot imagine what God is really about because they have never experienced ‘seeing.’ There is no internal imprint to draw from.

The frustrating impossibility of this is answered in the next verse in 1 Corinthians 2. It says, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. . . .” The good news in the Bible is this: just as Jesus opened literal blind eyes, God can open the eyes of those born into spiritual darkness!

In Matthew 16, Jesus asks the disciples who people think He is. They tell Him that some (who are spiritual blind) think He is a new version of John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the prophets. Then Jesus asks them who they thought He was.

Peter replied this often quoted confession of faith: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” However, the next verse should be quoted with it. It explains how Peter knew this.

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah (Peter’s old name), for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’”

Peter was a special guy, but his eyes, ears and heart were no different from the rest of us. He didn’t have a clue who Jesus was until God the Father opened his eyes, touched his ears, and regenerated his heart. Then he could see and hear and know the wonderful realities that God had prepared for him.

Spiritual reality is like another dimension. The person born physically blind or deaf cannot imagine a world of sight or sound like those of us who pretend to be blind. The person born spiritually blind and deaf cannot imagine the kingdom of God, at least not until God reveals it to them. It is beyond their experience.

Even though I can imagine being physically blind that is now impossible with spiritual blindness. Once I could not see, but now that I see Him, that revelation is imprinted in my heart. It cannot be removed neither by pretending nor by those times when I’ve been disillusioned, filled with doubts and fears, rebelled against Him, even wished I were not a seeing Christian. Any of my foolish efforts to walk in the dark cannot put out the light He shines in my heart, and this makes me feel such joy that I want to shout or dance or do something to express my delight in His incredible generosity and mercy.

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