Through God’s Eyes

Background Passage: Ephesians 1:18-19

As the story goes, Cambridge University hosted a debate between a learned science professor, a self-declared atheist, and a Christian pastor. The professor offered his reasoning for asserting God “existed” only as a figment of human imagination. Grounded in rationale thought and scientific understanding, the professor offered that no rationale human being could look at the universe and believe in a Creator God, much less one active in the world.

The Christian pastor countered with a quick argument. Getting the professor to acknowledge that there is still much in the world that science and rationale thought cannot explain, the pastor suggested that it might be possible that God exists within that body of knowledge yet unknown. That someday man might discover through rationale thought and scientific understanding that God does indeed exist. The Christian pastor claimed victory when the scientist agreed to that possibility.

It makes a good story, I suppose, but a God that can be explained by some unknown data set, seems somehow less…Almighty or Sovereign. To prove God’s existence using some aspect of human understanding seems to me to thwart the purpose and power of faith.

Noted theologian C. S. Lewis, sadly no relation, offered a statement in his work entitled, Is Theology Poetry? that hit the nail on the head. He wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

Lewis embraced faith over fact because his belief transformed the way he saw the world. Faith internalized and deeply held allows us to see the world around us, and the people within it, through God’s eyes. And that, I feel, is a significantly different world view that seen by those who live without a personal faith in Christ.

Given the chaotic and confused condition of life in the 21st century, we need our faith, our Christianity, our ability to see the world through the eyes of God, to make sense of things. How is a child of God to react when the world around us chooses to confront rather than console? To argue rather than understand? To divide rather than embrace? To hate rather than love?

If we see the world and all within it are, through the lens of the true faith, we accept that we carry an incredible responsibility to live as Christ lived. Instead of taking part in the divisive dialogue, we should encourage one, through our witness and walk, to console. To understand. To embrace. To love as Christ loved us.

The sun’s light illuminates all that we see. Because it does, we know it is real. The Son’s light reveals the world to us in its splendor and its ugliness. We can share its splendor, unleashing its beauty so it can shine in the face of ugliness. If we choose to live in him, we can see the world as he does—using the extraordinary vision with which he blessed us to bridge the distance between the Lord who loves and lost and lonely among us.

I have to admit the world I see today is a shadowy place, filled with uncertainty and chaos. Though I try to see through my Father’s eyes, I have a hard time wrapping my head around hatefulness. Lewis said it is his faith in Christ that opens his eyes. Paul took it a step further when he prayed for the believers in Ephesus.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 1:18-19.

Without God’s corrective vision, I look at the world and feel…hopeless. Paul tells me it can be different if I let God adjust or enlighten the eyes of my heart. When I can see the world through his eyes, I find hope and purpose.

Scotty Smith, pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN, writes a blog for The Gospel Coalition. He summed it up better than I ever could in this prayer to God.

“…this text makes a ton of sense to me. Apart from the work of your Spirit and the corrective lens of the gospel, it will be impossible for me to see what you intend for me to see with awe-producing clarity. So, indeed, Lord, open the eyes of my heart. Heal my shortsightedness, my far sightedness and the astigmatism of my soul. I want to see all things from your perspective, including the hope to which you have called us. To see with the eyes of hope means that I will be able to discern your heart and hand at work everywhere.”

I particularly like that last sentence. When we see through the eyes of our Christian faith, the eyes of hope, we can see God at work in all things. We see with awe-producing clarity our place in his redemptive work. Understanding that, I no longer see this world as an ugly place. It is a field ripe for the harvest.

The Parable of the Vanilla Milk Shake

Background Passages: Proverbs 119:18, I Cor. 3:1-3, I Cor. 13:11, and 2 Tim. 3:16

Sometimes the most ironic humor comes from that which we observe or fail to observe around us. I find the best comedians to be those who extract humor from ordinary life events. Though not a part of the mainstream entertainment world, comedian Jeanne Robertson is a master at sharing life as it unfolds around her. She tells a story of stopping for a drink of water and talking herself into a vanilla milk shake. Listen to her describe her experience in the following video.

I chuckle at this story because I relate so completely at times with the clerk whose mind consistently overlooks the obvious. Because the circumstance doesn’t mesh with the preconceived possibilities staring at her from the cash register, she cannot find a way to address the customer’s request.

The story made me wonder how often I fail to see the truth revealed to me because of my preconceived notions of the truth as I know…and want…it to be. It is a trap easily tripped as we live in the social, emotional and political world around us. It’s also a snare that prevents us from freely grasping the truth of God’s teachings and its application in our lives.

Absent a bolt of lightning or burning bush, most of us uncover the will of God in our lives through a deeper and more meaningful understanding of his Word as revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. If that’s true, then this Parable of the Vanilla Milk Shake serves as an apt reminder of how we should approach our study of the Bible–with eyes wide open and searching to understanding that lies buried within the words printed in scripture.

Paul reminded the church in Corinth (I Cor. 3:1-3)that the evidence of their lives made him think of them still as spiritual infants, able only to drink milk rather than solid food he offered them. Despite their years in the faith, they had not grown to understand its full meaning and application of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Paul also reminded us (I Cor. 13:11)that if we’re still seeing things through the eyes of a child we are not growing in our understanding of the life God would have us lead.

Like the clerk in Robertson’s story, I lock myself onto that which I learned years ago, content that the “truth” I learned as a teenager remains permanently valid for my life today. That what I learned as a child and reasoned as a child, should not be put away. In truth, God teaches me new things almost every time I open myself to his Word. I can read a passage of scripture today that I’ve read and studied for years only to wake up in wide-eyed wonder at a new thought God’s spirit has revealed…to understand how that verse applies in my life–not yesterday, but today. Not then, but this moment in my life. Much like the clerk behind the counter, I read that familiar passage and the light in my heart and my eyes turns on. I find a new way to think about and apply what was right in front of me all the time.

I’ve read Psalms 119 several times over the years. I even taught this portion of the chapter in my Sunday School class a few weeks ago. Yet, this week as I scanned across it again, several new thoughts occurred to me.

There are wonderful things in the Bible just waiting for God to show them to us. I like to think I am a reasonably bright man, yet I am unable to comprehend the complexity of God’s word on my own without his inspiration. His truth must be revealed in our lives at a time and place of God’s choosing. They are words that enable us to get the most out of our relationships with God and others.

Paul once told Timothy, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16) Those wonderful things in scripture change us in ways we can only imagine and empower us in ways we never dreamed to do the work God asks of us.

The passage teaches us that we are incapable of discovering all these wonderful things unless God first opens our eyes. Reading through his word without seeking the revelation of the spirit is like the blind man who after first experiencing Jesus’ healing touch saw a world in which men looked like trees walking around. We might, on our own, find a nugget of truth lying on the surface of scripture and see God’s word vaguely. We will never see his word with the kind of clarity that profoundly changes our hearts and our lives unless he opens our eyes to the possibilities.

Since we cannot explore the depths of God’s word on our own, we must pray that he shines light upon his word every time we turn the page. Helpless to see the beauty and wonder of God’s teachings through my myopic lens, I must ask him to “Open my eyes, Lord, and let me see the wonderful things in your law.”

I liked Jeanne Robertson’s description of the young clerk as she realized could not offer the family their desired chocolate milk shakes. With a gleam in her eyes, the young woman offered instead four vanilla shakes that, until that day, she never knew she had. It was a delightful revelation.

The Parable of the Vanilla Milk Shake teaches a wonderful lesson. The Christian walk evolves and grows as we allow God to teach us…the ultimate in life-long learning. Some of the best things in life have been there all the time. Our eyes just failed to see them. I am grateful to love a God who shows me what I need to know when I need to know it through the inspiration of his active and indwelling spirit. Open my eyes, Lord. There are so many more wonderful things to learn. It is a delightful revelation.