In bed, with a good book and a very large cup of tea is my first choice for a lazy Saturday morning.
A few years ago, I started to find my eyes would ache and burn under the strain of reading, and the words would blur as though they had been left out in the rain. Naturally, I took myself off to the optometrist and the problem was solved. What a gift to be able to detect there was a problem with my vision, go to a medical professional who could advise me and provide lenses so that I might see things as they actually are.
But what do we do when the eyes of our hearts are ‘visually impaired’ and we aren’t seeing things as they truly are? Words may not blur into one another, but our blurred perspective leads to disillusionment, despair and a grumbling heart…. and it leads us further away from seeing clearly.
The glasses I needed
The answer, I think, is gospel glasses. We all need a pair, and we all need to keep them on… all the time.
Where do we find them? In the pages of Scripture, powered by the gift of God’s Holy Spirit.
How beautiful is Paul’s prayer for the church 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 the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
That is the vantage point we need! What a view… it’s as if Paul takes us to the top of a mountain to perceive what is in fact true of us.
Looking back at the cross of Christ, we are reminded that God loves us, He has crushed sin and Satan, and by his resurrection we know that our future glory is secure. So, in one sense, with gospel glasses in place, looking back is the best way for us to be able to move forward.
But in another sense, looking forward is the best way for us to keep looking forward.
Could these gospel glasses be a kind of bi-focal?
With eyes enlightened by God’s Spirit, to know the hope to which he has called us, we must also look ahead and strain towards our inheritance. The author to the Hebrews implies the training and effort that is needed to do this:
“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and Perfecter of our faith.”
Throw off what hinders, run with perseverance…sounds exhausting, right?
But hold on; take a look at the powerful driving force. It’s not me… it’s not you… it’s “the author and the Perfecter of faith”… it’s Jesus who “endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart…” It is Jesus, who resisted sin to the point of shedding his blood.
Paul takes us up onto one last peak in his prayer. He says:
“and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…”
A mind-blowing truth
The same power that raised Christ from the dead, and then seated him above all authority, is the power at work in you and in me. He gives us eyes to see, and power to endure – even the things that feel like they may break us.
If you’ll excuse the continuing lens analogy, I think we see one more element to the sight gained from gospel glasses. We need them to look back, and we need them to look forward…. but we also need them for others to be able to see.
I’m wondering if this means they are multi-focals…?
See what Paul writes to the church in Philippi:
“Therefore my dear friends… continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life – in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labour for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”
God’s power in us enables us to experience the trials, challenges, heart ache and suffering (which will most definitely come) in stark contrast to those who don’t see what Christ accomplished at the cross and to those who are blind to the hope of eternal inheritance because of it.
We are to, did you see it, “do everything without complaining or arguing”. And when we stop the grumbling, we aren’t left with a mouth full of teeth… no, in place of the grumbling and complaining, Paul says “hold out the word of life” and “be glad and rejoice with me”!
To the watching world, this will be like looking into the dark Karoo night sky. Or, in my limited knowledge of optometry, I guess it’s like cataract surgery… bringing light and hope into someone else’s blurry darkness and despair.
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