I have been dealing with an eye infection in both eyes this past week. My eye doctor says that my cold/flu moved into my eyes, and even though he has given me some antibiotic drops to take, it is likely a virus and will have to run its course. Having my eyes burn and itch is miserable, and it makes me appreciate how much I value my vision.
It also reminds me of the various kinds of "blindness" that can infect us as Christians. Here are a few examples:
- People Blindness – when we simply fail to notice other people and their needs. This affliction troubles many local congregations when they simply don't see persons around them in their community who need the Gospel. I have had church leaders tell me, for example, "We don't have many young families in our community," whereas their demographics reveal a growing number of Hispanic families or other immigrant groups. The church can be blind to seeing people who are "not like us" and assume they don't exist.
- Blindness to God's presence – in our Cabinet meetings, we practice what we call "glory sightings" or "God sightings" as a way of noticing God at work around us. This is important, because it is easy to become absorbed in our own issues or in the bad news in the media, and we can become blind to the presence of God at work all around us.
- The Blindness of hypocrisy – Jesus warned that we need to notice the log in our own eyes before we try to remove the speck in someone else's eyes. It is easy for religious people (like us) to become so focused upon the sins of others that we are blind to our own issues.
- Blindness to evil – we came become so accustomed to the evils and violence of the world that we almost never notice. School shootings have become so commonplace that we are rarely shocked anymore – even the Newtown, Connecticut, tragedy has become "old news" as we get used to that awful evil. One of the real subtleties of evil is that we can become accustomed to it and accepting of it.
- Casting a blind eye to those right next to us – someone has said that our personal mission field is within 3 yards of each of us, if only we will see it. One writer has said we each need to "work our turf" and to make a difference for God with everyone we meet every day. We are to live the Gospel in the way we treat the waiter at the restaurant, the housekeeper at our hotel, the clerk at the grocery story, etc. Do we see them? Do we notice their needs? Do we become a channel of God's love, even if done without words? It all starts with seeing.
Do you see God's Kingdom breaking into our world? Do you know, for example, that we now have 260 United Methodist congregations and 14,000 members in Communist Vietnam? Did you see that coming when we were in the midst of the Vietnam War? I did not, but it is now a reality, and the first Local Elders have been ordained to lead those churches.
Lord, help my eyes to heal. Even more, help me not to be blind to Your coming, Your presence, and Your way. Amen.