Have your eyes ever tricked you? You're certain you are looking at one thing, but come to find out it's actually something quite different. Fascinating, really. As I've gotten older I've found that what I used to be able to see up close is now fuzzier and my far away vision is a little clearer. While this can mean more time with the eye doctor, it can also be a helpful reminder of what kind of vision I need for my spiritual eyes.
Do you recognize this commonly found item in your kitchen? At first I thought it was a gross collection of hair in a drain (ick!), but it's actually something quite different. Looking at this item up close like this, though, will never help us identify its true nature. We need a different perspective to do that.
I wonder if this is what the apostle Paul was saying when he exhorted the Colossians to set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. In several of his letters to various churches, Paul challenges the saints to remember that their old life, the one marked by sin and fleshy desires, is dead. Not put into the closet to be taken out at a later date, but dead. No longer alive! If you believe the Holy Spirit-inspired truth that Paul was preaching then, and that still applies to us today, then perhaps you will join me in pursuing clearer long-range spiritual sight.
As I think about the warnings we receive as Believers--to put off the fleshly mind and desires, to not let sin have dominion over us any longer--I realize that most of my fleshly wants and behaviors stem from having my eyes fixed on the up close, the here and now, the short term. What about yours?
How many times do we get upset with a friend because we feel offended? What about the couple who justifies sexual sin? Bursting forth in anger and unkind impatience, resisting authority, dwelling on feeling unappreciated. All of these things flow out of a focus on the short-term rather than the long-term. We are fixing our perspective on the things of this earth and not setting our minds on things above.
That up-close-and-personal image at the top of this post? It's just a tea bag. With a proper perspective, we quickly recognize it. We don't get caught up in the nitty gritty, but rather we are able to focus our eyes on what is helpful to see clearly.
If we live in such a way that our ego is hidden in Christ, that our rights are hidden in Christ, that our feelings are hidden in Christ, then we can respond in ways that are more Christ-like because it is HIM who will be seen, not us. Remember, we are hidden. Hidden in Him. Like John the Baptist wisely said, "He must increase but I must decrease".
I imagine that all sin is probably due to our wrong focus on the short-term. When a couple decides to ignore God's command for purity, it is a short-term need of the flesh that they are satisfying. When a woman lacks self-control with eating, it is an immediate feeding of the flesh. When someone nurtures a grudge, it is a feel-good-now response. There will be a reckoning, though, as sin will eventually be seen for what it is. What looked good up close will eventually become like rottenness to the bones (Psalm 32) when seen with a proper perspective, a godly perspective.
May we all cultivate long-term vision in our eyes and hearts as we hide ourselves with Christ in God.