This weekend I was speaking at a team retreat for a missions organization up in mid-Wales. I spoke from the final section of Hebrews, a book that has been a regular delight for me in recent years. I was struck again how easily we can become myopic in our Christian journey.
We lose sight of eternity as we live in the present. In chapter 11, the great Hall of Faith passage, there is a recurring theme of reward anticipated by the great men and women listed in the passage. That reward is the focus of their faith, that for which they hoped. The passage even makes it clear that their hope was looking beyond their own lives to the city that God is building for them, their very own hometown. Yet so often I find myself losing sight of that which currently is unseen and living life entirely in light of temporality, instead of eternity. I can’t help but feel that the pendulum has swung in recent years so that far too many of us are avoiding any reference to the future lest we stray into some sort of sensational eschatology and face the ridicule that is now so common amongst believers. We desperately need a biblical eternal perspective or else we live myopic lives.
We lose sight of the joy beyond the suffering. Tied into the vision of the eternal is the perspective needed for facing the trials of life. Sometimes the suffering comes from the hands of men, but are we able to “joyfully accept the confiscation of our property?” I think I’d struggle with that due to a loss of eternal perspective. Then what of persecution, physical suffering, personal pain? Sometimes the suffering comes from the loving hand of our Father in Heaven who disciplines us in love. This never seems pleasant at the time, but that is the point, there is a purpose beyond present discomfort (and short-sighted thinking must dismiss such discipline as being from the loving heart of a loving God). When our perspective becomes too restricted, we will always struggle to see beyond the present pain to the future joy. Thankfully our Lord was not myopic.
We lose sight of Jesus when we gaze only at circumstances. The sermon to the Hebrews offers recurring reinforcement of the need to press on, to look forward, to fix our eyes on the forerunner, the One who has pioneered the pathway and gone on ahead of us. I know I need to be reminded to fix my eyes on Jesus. Otherwise the more pressing and immediately obvious options will attract my gaze. It is not by determined willpower that we look beyond the present to the future, beyond the pain to the prospect, beyond the circumstances to the Christ. It is by being so captivated by the privilege of relationship with a loving Father, and the honour of being considered brothers by the Christ, that we have our gaze lifted from the present to see beyond the immediate.
There are lots of other examples of myopic Christianity that we could trace too. How easily we view the Bible as opaque, instead of seeing the God who gave it to us. How easily we view His mission field as our local context, instead of seeing the global field that God is passionate about reaching. How easily we get drawn into the short-term pseudo-pleasures of temptation, instead of seeing the deep-seated satisfaction of living to please Him.
I suppose we all have a genetic propensity to spiritual myopia. Let’s be sure to get the continual therapy offered by soaking in the Word so that we truly can see well.