Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Check My Blind Spot!

[This entry follows a sermon preached at Gray Road Baptist Church, titled "The Blind and the Blind". Click on the title to listen to the audio.]

Throughout the book of Mark, we see the blind. We see blind crowds, blind religious leaders, and blind disciples. Oh, these people can see their surroundings just fine, but they are blind to the person and work of Jesus. The Bible says that one of the evidences of our depravity as humans is that we are spiritually blind (2 Cor. 4:4). In order to see life, death, God, ourselves, sin, and salvation correctly, something has to happen to cure this condition. What we need is for "God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,'" to shine "in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). Just as Jesus was the only One who could give sight to blind Bartimaeus, He is the only One who can open the eyes of the spiritually blind.

Yet, even once our eyes have been opened, we see the beauty and glory of the Lord Jesus, and we embrace Him as our Savior and Lord, we are still prone to blindness. We are prone to think ourselves holier or more mature than we actually are. We are prone to think ourselves better than our brother or sister in Christ. We are all prone, dear friend, to blind spots. You know what blind spots are, right? When driving, there are places where peripheral vision and even rear view mirrors fail to give us the whole picture. We might choose to ignore such blind spots, but that can lead to a disastrous outcome. If we are to be responsible, mature drivers, we must check our blind spots often. Likewise, if we are to be spiritually mature, we must be constantly checking our spiritual blind spots...those places where we assume things are fine, all is clear, and there's nothing to worry about.

Peter writes about this tendency to blindness in his second letter. He writes, "For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins" (2 Pt. 1:5-9).

In other words, there are two options. One is an effective and fruitful life in knowing Christ, and the other is an ineffective and unfruitful life. Those who are ineffective and unfruitful are those who are not pursuing these qualities. I say 'pursuing' because Peter says "if these qualities are yours and are increasing" (v. 8). Perfection is not what makes us spiritually effective...making it our business to grow in these qualities does. If we refuse to grow in these areas, thinking that we can be effective and fruitful without the kind of character God requires, then Peter says we are blind...blind to the one thing we should always see clearly: the gospel.

If we say we have faith but think nothing of growing in virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love, then we are blind to what it means to have faith in the one who cleansed us from our former sins (v. 9). If we say we have faith but do not see the fruit of the Spirit blossoming in our hearts and lives, then we are blind to what it means to belong to Christ Jesus by faith and crucify our passions and desires (Gal. 5:23-24). If we say we have faith but do not have any works, can that faith save us (James 2:14)?

Blind spots in our spiritual lives are those places where we are willing to overlook sin or overlook the need for spiritual growth. We may simply walk through life thinking it will either work itself out or it's not really a big deal. My eyes were opened just yesterday to a blind spot while interacting with one of my children. My need to grow in a particular area has been graciously revealed. So, now I will either pursue spiritual maturity and growth in this area, or I will turn a blind eye to it. Peter's words seem to be saying that if I choose to ignore my need to change and grow here, then I am blind to what the gospel means and how the gospel should affect me day by day. If I am willingly choosing to be blind to the gospel, then can I say I have truly believed the gospel and submitted my life to Christ?

We all have blind spots. The real question isn't whether we have them, but what will we do once they are revealed to us? Blind spots are often revealed by others...through a conversation, through a conflict, through seeing a character quality in another that you know you need in your own life, etc. How will we respond when the Lord shows us these opportunities to grow? Will we close our eyes to reality because changing seems too hard, too unrealistic, or just unnecessary? Or, will we glorify God by pursuing our spiritual growth?

May our prayer be that of the psalmist, "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" (Ps. 139:23-24)