"But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear..." Matthew 13:16
I woke up in the middle of the night once to turn off the heat and walked into the corner of a wall. I wasn't drunk or angry, just presumptuous, thinking that I knew the lay of the land in our apartment better than I really did. Embarrassed, I crawled back into bed letting my wife know that the thud wasn't an earthquake; it was just my head. She asked how serious it was and I said I felt fine. It wasn't until she turned the light on that we discovered blood was soaking the pillow and the sheets, and that I needed to get to the emergency room.
The only thing worse than not seeing is not seeing while presuming to know the way. This, of course, is the danger that comes from being religious, from being 'churched'. The people who thought they could see because they knew their Bibles so well, were the ones who accused Jesus of being demon possesed, and who were careful, after arresting the Messiah, to stay out of the Gentile's courtyard so that they could be ceremonially clean for the ensuing Passover meal. All the while, they're conspiring to kill the very Messiah about whom they read, and for whom they ostensibly longed. The trouble is, they were in love with a Messiah fabricated out of their own limited vision and worldview, so that when the real Messiah showed up they were offended.
The wonderful paradox of life with Jesus though, seems to be that the ones who ultimately see are the ones are understand that they're in the dark. The disciples, who Jesus commends for their capacity to see, need Jesus' help to interpret the parables He speaks, and they're not afraid to ask for it. The blind man in John 9 ultimately sees, not only trees and flowers, but the identity of the long awaited Messiah, while Jesus tells the Bible scholars that because they presume that they can see, their sin remains. And of course, the rock-star of 1st century Christianity, the great Paul, begin his life in Christ by being plunged into literal blindness, thus creating a receptivity of heart and mind that would lead to his transformation.
I'm old enough now to have seen lots of fads dance across the stage of Christian history; the world was going to end back in the 70's, and then again in the 80's, not to mention Y2K and the fans of stocking up on canned goods and weapons in Jesus name. There have been manias about spiritual gifts, and reactionary phobias; spiritual warfare and rumors of spiritual warfare a plenty; prosperity promises; liberation revolutions; and more recenlty emergent/post-modern/anceint-modern/foundationalist...blah blah blah. These days I just roll my eyes and yawn.
It's not that we don't need new perspective. We do. Seeing is supremely important, so I want to hear and learn from every corner of the theological globe. The irony, though, is that as soon as I believe that I see with perfect clarity, I begin to defend doctrinal turf, or promote it, and close my heart to the ongoing process of transformation that is needed. Such postures and attitudes carry an undertone of arrogance rather than humility, and it's the arrogance of the one who presumes to know who will, in the end, find himself walking into walls. This isn't a calling to live in a some sort of 'conviction free zone' where I declare that since I can't know anything with certainty I'll just not believe anything. Rather, it's a call to hold my convictions and live them out with courage, but also with humility, open to reordering when further conviction and enlightenment comes, when I see more clearly.
After all, Paul said that we don't get it perfectly yet, so let's continue to enjoy the journey, calling each other to Christ, looking for answers, living out our convictions with an openness to ongoing repentance and transformation. Such a posture of heart and mind is eye-opening, and God knows that in these days of heightened fear and rhetoric, seers are in short supply.
O Lord Jesus;
We thank you that you call us to shine as light in the midst of these amazing days, and we are quick to acknowledge that, apart from your light shining into our lives, our hearts remain darkened. Create in us both an awareness of our own darkness, so that we might have a holy desire kindled for your light to shine, granting us the capacity to grow in wisdom, and mature in our capacity to live as people of joy, hope, and generosity in this fallen world. In your great name we pray. Amen.