This last year I had cataract surgery on my left eye. In simplest of terms, a cataract is the formation of cloudiness in your eye that blocks or hinders light from entering and as a result makes it difficult to see. “They” tell us that cataracts are the leading cause of vision problems for people over 40 all around the world. I am not an expert and will not attempt to discuss the intricacies of cataracts. But the amazing thing is that doctors can remove the lens of the eye and replace it with a new lens without the cloudiness, thus improving vision.
Now bear with me for a moment as I share a little of my story, because I have a lesson here I think. I was made aware of the development of cataracts several years ago when an eye exam led to the doctor saying, “You are beginning to develop cataracts.” He continued, “I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is we can do something about it. The bad news is, they are not bad enough to mess with yet.” But as 2015 began to unfold, I suddenly began having extreme difficulty seeing out of my left eye. So back to the eye doctor, and sure enough it was time for surgery.
During the first consultation, I met with a “counselor” who explained my options. I could have traditional surgery, which my insurance would cover after I met the deductible. Or I could have laser surgery, which she said was less risky and from which recovery was faster. The catch, however, was the insurance company considered that “elective surgery” and there would be an additional $1000 charge. I said, “I will have the traditional.”
The counselor continued, “We have a lens that can be put in that adjusts for near and far just like the lens you have before aging causes it not to function correctly.” As amazing as that technology is, once again, it is elective surgery and there is a substantial increase in cost. “I will have the traditional lens that doesn’t adjust.” Essentially that meant I would need “reading glasses” after surgery in order to see up close.
The surgery was an amazing success. For weeks I was amazed at my new 20/20 eyesight. No more glasses, other than when time to read. It has been incredible. This brings me to the point. We all see the world around us through a set of “lens” that filters how we perceive everything. These lenses are shaped by our culture, our experience, our worldview, and many other factors. Everyone looks at the world through some kind of lens. As time goes by, I think we develop “cataracts” that cloud our ability to see at all, beyond our own little world.
All of that to get to this point: As Christians we are called upon to see the spiritual condition of people around us, both near and far. How we see them is “colored” by the lens we have in our spiritual eyes. Jesus challenged us to see the reality that people far from God were like sheep without a shepherd and they needed us to help them discover the Gospel. The longer we live in the midst of a lost world we tend to develop “blindness” to the condition of people. We need a “spiritual cataract surgery,” if you please. We need the Holy Spirit to renew our vision, and oddly that happens in our hearts, not in our eyes.
Furthermore, we need to recognize that sometimes we need to take off the glasses that we are looking through and put on different glasses. I noticed, for example, that certain dark glasses when I am on a lake block my vision of what is under the water as it blocks the glare. When I put on different lens, I can suddenly see things that were there all the time, but were blocked by the lens through which I was looking. I will come back to this topic in a subsequent post.
(Contact me at Church Unleashed Global for Missional Coaching to help lead your church to see and then communicate effectively with people who are far from God.)