In late December 2016, my wife, Dana, and I went to the optometrist for the first time in eons. We both needed new prescription glasses, and our vision insurance through my school was crying to be used before year’s end. I knew that my old lenses were not getting the job done, so I expected that my prescription had changed. Our eye doctor confirmed this and reported—a bit surprisingly—that my astigmatism had improved. “What is astigmatism?” you ask.
Astigmatism is an imperfection in the curvature of the eye that causes blurred vision. In one suffering from this malady, the eye ball tends toward being egg-shaped rather than round. Whether viewing something near or far, sight affected by astigmatism yields only a blurred vision of the world. Fortunately, through the use of corrective action (lenses or surgery), astigmatism can be compensated for. In many cases, astigmatism is present from birth.
In similar fashion, spiritual astigmatism for mankind has been present since almost the beginning…since the Fall (Genesis 3) to be exact. As a prime aspect of the curse of original sin, the capacity for a proper perspective on reality went missing. What that means is this: the “spiritual eyes” of every single soul on the planet are “out of round” and, thus, every human has only a blurred vision of spiritual reality. We are all, from birth, spiritually astigmatic. Yes, we have this debilitating handicap, but we are not without hope! The Gospel of Christ serves as the “corrective lens” through which the blurry is made clear. That clarification comes only if we, in actuality, apply the Gospel lens to our lives consistently. So does that mean that this clarification comes through self-effort? Yes, and no.
According to Scripture, people are truly responsible moral agents; they can make right or wrong choices and, of course, are taught through the principles and commands of Scripture to choose the right path. If it were not possible to choose the wrong path, why would God waste ink in His word? On the other hand, God is truly sovereign in His control of the universe—right down to the nitty gritty of our lives. He makes no mistakes, but often we do not understand His ways; I’ll be the first to admit that I often fail to apprehend His perfect will. Yet, God in His word calls us not to despair but to an attitude of trust and hopefulness.
In 2 Corinthians 4, the apostle Paul writes that, in spite of affliction, perplexing and painful situations, and even persecution (vss. 8,9), “we do not lose heart” (vss. 1, 16). Why? Because in and through these things, they were able to “see” that they were always carrying about in the body (yes, the one with blurred vision) the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in their bodies (verse 10). In verse 11 Paul continues: “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” In other words, Paul aids vision by bringing into focus the difference that the resurrected Christ, available to His people through the indwelling Spirit, makes to those who trust Him. It’s not just that He is a great example to follow; Paul, led by the Spirit, refers to Christ as our life (Colossians 3:4); He is in us—through His Spirit—and constitutes our hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).
Does His presence in us and provision for us mean that we are all now paragons of spiritual-visual acuity? No, but we have a hope that will not disappoint. In the meantime, Paul calls us to walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), and “…faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). In light of these actualities, may our individual and collective spiritual astigmatism steadily improve, to the glory of the One who makes even the blind to see.
“What we see will violate what we know unless what we know dictates what we see.”
by Steve Mittwede, Upper School Science Department Chair