Seeing Clearly

September 7, 2023 | Jeff Patton

I recently had surgery on my right eye. I had developed lots of floaters over the years after having a couple of small retina tears and the laser surgeries to repair them. The bottom line is, I could not see clearly out of my right eye. Compared to my left eye, things were murky and cloudy. It really got frustrating this spring during turkey season when I missed 3 wild gobblers while having only missed 5 in the 36 previous seasons. If you know me, you know that this is what finally got my attention. I needed some help, LOL!

Obviously, physical sight is crucial to flourishing as a human. Without it, the normal daily things of life can be a challenge and even impossible. Add to that, it’s relatively easy to diagnose the loss of our physical seeing. Either you can see or you can’t!

But when it comes to our “spiritual sight,” that’s a whole other issue. What can feel so right ends up completely contrary to what God says is true. We can automatically assume that we as Christ followers are "seeing" God, ourselves, others, and the world the way we ought. Yet, as those who have walked with God for years can attest, when we look at anything and everything from our own perspective rather than through the lens of God and His word, then things are going to be cloudy and unclear. I for sure know that is true of me.

So how does one move from cultural conformity to being rooted in the timeless truths of scripture? How do we learn to develop discernment that will cultivate biblical convictions no matter our emotions?

We can feel bombarded with a secular worldview that competes for control of our minds and hearts. The way of the world is often described as "progressive," and embracing the gospel of the world somehow empowers  people to be forward-looking and thinking, broad and open minded and enlightened. No doubt this is attractive to our natural fleshly hearts, but Jesus’s half-brother James would tell us, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters” (James 1:16).

On the other hand, Christians are to begin with God as the Supreme Authority. It is His words and commands that are to govern us. Yes, we are to look to the scriptures for direction, understanding not only who we are, but how we are to live. The one who has trusted in Christ alone is to examine every new idea, fad and desire against the backdrop of the scriptures, alone. Is it permissible and edifying? Does it line up with his Word and his will?

Through over 40 years of growing up in Christ, here is what I know to be true: No one develops biblical convictions of truth by accident. Biblical convictions must be shaped and formed with great intentionality while living in biblical community. They are both taught and caught. No one’s spiritual sight moves from cloudy to clear by going off in isolation. NO one!

God’s design for cultivating a Christian worldview, that leads to seeing all things the way He sees them, to loving all that He loves, hating all that He hates, and living as He intended as the people of God, is in large measure, with the help of family—both our home family and our church family. These two crucial gifts from God, given and empowered by God’s Spirit, are to play the largest role in improving our spiritual sight.

How do you think someone forms biblical values about the importance of marriage? About what it is to be a man or woman as God designed? How does someone form convictions about God’s design for gender and sexuality? How do we know the difference between a gospel-grounded life and one grounded in the lies of the world? How do we see in ourselves what theologians call the "sins of omission," sins like failing to forgive, failing to love God and our neighbor, good works left undone, prayerlessness, not sharing the gospel, people-pleasing, self-righteousness, looking down on others, or being an expert at pointing out the splinter in another’s eye while being blind to the log in our own eye. You get the picture. It must be taught and then caught by watching others who have better spiritual sight than you. Taught and caught, over and over and over.

As we begin this new ministry year at Fellowship, my strong encouragement is for us to engage God, His word and His people in such a way that, over time, we will see ALL of life through His set of glasses. Let’s make it a priority to show up for our worship gathering and our community group. Let’s ask others who know us well about potential areas that we are not seeing clearly. We need a posture that is open for input. We can’t just assume we are seeing clearly! It’s a dangerous assumption that often does not end well for the one doing the assuming.

It won’t happen overnight, nothing significant does…but the more we see as God originally intended us to see, the more we change into the image of Christ Himself. That’s the kind of “sight” change you and I both need and want.

I’m so thankful for the medical doctor that masterfully performed surgery on my right eye. The ability to clearly see again out of that eye is encouraging, especially when turkey season rolls around again.  However, nothing can compare with me seeing God, myself, others, and the world as God sees it.