Whether we use our eyesight, hindsight, or foresight, it’s all about perspective. Casting a vision, or making a prophetic statement, is really based on a clear moral insight of the present, and not so much on foresight into the future. We surely need hindsight to illuminate the past and transcribe history. “Right vision”, as described in Buddhist philosophy, is the ability to see clearly what lies before us, by not contaminating it with imagination or emotion. Jesus taught us to see with a “single eye”, a way of seeing purely and deeply the interconnectedness of everything and everyone, not discolored by dark shadows of selfish motives and desires.
When painters in the Renaissance rediscovered “the vanishing point”, they modeled their work on Nature’s way of seeing things, i.e., closer =larger and further away=smaller. Earlier styles of painting would depict those considered more important as larger figures, disregarding the principles of perspective. People of less prominence were painted in as miniatures. ** The media does a good job of painting in those who grab the biggest headlines, and painting out the losers.
Having watched my own grandchildren and several other children being born, it’s always a wonder to see them open their eyes for the first time to a new world, and to the familial relationships they will inherit. It takes another kind of birthing process to have our spiritual eyes opened. Thousands of years later, Jesus introduced this truth to an eminent Jewish scholar who had not yet learned he was born blind, when He said, “Unless you are born again from above, you cannot see the Kingdom of God”. This made no sense intellectually, so the scholar used common earth sense to ask, “How are these things possible? Must a man enter again into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered him by describing a mysterious wind that comes down from “above” and rests upon a person. (The Hebrew word for wind is spirit). When the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Adoption*, opens our eyes to see Jesus, that revelation births us into God’s family, as His sons and daughters. My second birth happened long ago in Big Sur on top of Pfeiffer Ridge, and it opened my eyes to see Jesus and His world, the unseen Kingdom of God all around me.
It’s a hard truth to bear and to hear: we are born spiritually blind. It’s simply the human condition we’ve inherited from Adam’s choice to be independent from his Father. He chose to be “like God” in the wrong way. He lusted after knowledge, not only of what is good, true and beautiful, but also knowledge of the dark side. He lost his moral compass when he calculated that his advantage in gaining the whole spectrum of knowledge was better than simply being an obedient son. His loss was incalculable. He and Eve were cast out of their birthplace and earthly home forever, blindsided by the evil one.
Spiritual rebirth radically changes our human perspective on time and eternity. It is a vanishing point that transforms how we see our life on earth, and how we fit into the eternal scheme of things. One day as Jesus was walking by the Temple with his disciples, they were marveling at the size of the stones (37 1/2 ft. long, 18 ft. wide, 12 ft. thick!) Who wouldn’t be impressed? Haven’t we done our share of gawking in this life journey? As Jews, they were proud of this structure and boasted of its beauty and grandeur. But Jesus saw it differently. His vision was untainted because he clearly saw past the immense grandeur of this last Jewish Temple, and viewed it as an immoral monument to Herod’s greed and power, paid for on the backs of human lives. And Jesus prophesied that it wouldn’t survive the judgment that was coming. It was unthinkable then for some of the disciples to conceive that one day, in their own lifetime, they would watch the long arm of Roman power topple those massive stones from their foundation.
Which brings us to the Divine perspective. Who looms largest in God’s sight? Psalm 113 gives us a glimpse of God stooping down to lift up the poor and needy, the powerless, the insignificant, and setting them on an equal plane with those in power and authority. God corrects our nearsightedness with the lens of His Word. He washes our spiritual eyes, the windows of our souls, with the water of His Word, and dispels the darkness of our hearts. He purges our guilty conscience with the fire of His Word so we can become a lightening rod of provocation through love and good works. Our spiritual eyes will have a single focus, and the true light of Jesus will shine through us!
* Romans 8:15-17
**I am indebted to David Davies for planting these seed thoughts through his writings in “Disciplines”, a devotional by Upper Room Ministries.