Last week I was with a church outreach in Guatemala. We used an autorefractor supplied by Global Eyeglass Ministries to examine eyes of hundreds of local Guatemalans. And with that we also had many used and donated eyeglasses to match needs through a computer program. Once we had a match we gave the eyeglasses as gifts. Most of our visitors couldn’t afford exams, let alone prescription glasses, so this was a very special moment for them.
One thirty years old woman stood out. We gave her a pair of strong corrective lenses and sent her outside to see how they worked. Minutes later she came back in tears, “I never knew what I was missing! I thought everyone saw what I saw—fuzzy shapes—but now I see how wonderful the world looks! I never knew!” It was a stunning moment for her and a very rewarding moment for us.
On Friday I returned to Portland to preach a promised Sunday sermon on “Why read the Bible regularly?” This Guatemalan lady offered a nice example. Most of us think we have a clear view of God when we’re actually only seeing distortions—like the blind man in Mark 8:22-25, who saw people as “walking trees” before Jesus gave him complete clarity. And we just don’t know any better!
Bible reading, with the Spirit present, offers us spiritual corrective lenses. He uses the Bible to give us a life-changing view of the Christ-to-God relationship. That vision reshapes how we live as it changes our deepest values. But if, on the other hand, we aren’t reading our Bibles and don’t have the Spirit’s love being poured out in our hearts through the words God offers us, we can be sure we haven’t really seen him clearly. Instead we only have a blurry caricature.
Let me suggest one spiritual “eye chart” to see if we need corrective Bible lenses. In this analogy let’s start with our tangible chart in Guatemala. The lady I mentioned was first asked to report the orientation of letters on the top line of the chart—up, down, or sideways. This lady missed even at the topmost line.
Part of this analogy is our interest in the Bible. If we ignore the Bible, or just nibble at it, we’re like the Guatemalans who heard of our free clinic but disregarded the invitation to come in. Like the woman with the fuzzy vision they assumed their vision is just as good as everyone else’s. Every non-Christian, and too many professing Christians, are in that place. And that guarantees stumbling through life without ever seeing dangers at every turn.
The second stage is how we respond to the bits of the Bible we do have. Do we treat the Bible as a self-help resource? And insist that teachers and preachers tell us how a given lesson applies to life? This is tantamount to mistaking a mirror for eyeglass lenses. A mirror only offers a close-up view of self, while lenses let us look outside with brilliant clarity.
The Guatemalan woman, for instance, didn’t come to tears for having looked into a mirror. It was the beauty of the outside world that stunned her—and we were in a beautiful setting. So it is when we have a clear heart-responsive-view of God as offered in the Bible we’re stunned. We become like the man-born-blind in John 9 who when he finally “saw” Jesus fell down and worshipped him! We can be sure that our Guatemalan lady hasn’t needed lessons on “how to apply your improved vision.” And we don’t need lots of “applications” in how to respond to Jesus once he captures our hearts.
The point, then, is for each of us to ask how we’re engaging and responding to the Bible. If it’s not a primary part of life, with our growing delight in life focused on Christ as we read, let me suggest you need an spiritual eye-appointment. It starts with saying, “Lord, I must be blind. Please help me see you!”
I promise this: he’s always happy to give us a new view of life!