How Do We Become Spiritually Blind?
If spiritual blindness is a condition that affects the religious, how do we, as Christians, ensure that we do not fall into this trap? How do we become spiritually blind? The gospels make clear that it is a misdirection of our vision. Jesus says “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of life. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matthew 6:22-23). Spiritual blindness is an internal condition. It occurs when we focus our attention upon our own pride, desire, or limited understanding.
This is exactly what the Pharisees exhibit. Their prideful assumption that they were “experts” in the things of God made them inhospitable to Jesus. Because Jesus often called people way from the blind execution of religious rules, the Pharisees could not accept the incarnation. God, they believed, only worked in the context of their limited understanding.
Because of this pride, Jesus calls them “blind guides” (Matthew 23:16). Their hearts were set more on following the rules of the Temple than on observing a heartfelt devotion to God. Jesus criticizes them for “giving a tenth of your spices – mint, dill, and cumin, but neglecting the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23). The Pharisees frequently had their eyes set upon the praises of others, rather than on truly walking the way of holiness and righteousness. Their life, and faith, served their own glorification.
Before we become overly critical of the Pharisees, we must recognize that this also happens with Peter and the other disciples. When Peter rebukes Jesus for speaking about his upcoming death, Jesus turns around and declares he did not have in mind the things of God” (Mark 8:33). In that moment, despite his desire to be faithful to his Lord, Peter’s vision was set upon his own understanding of God’s ways, rather than the humble acceptance of Jesus. Similarly, the disciples argue about who is the greatest, and who will sit on Jesus’ right and left hand in the kingdom. Each of these instances is an example of spiritual blindness because the disciples turn their spiritual vision to their own glorification and exaltation. While they claim to understand the nuances of Christ’s Lordship they fail to recognize the way of redemption and grace.
Whenever we believe that we have plumbed the depths of God, we act in spiritual blindness. Such an attitude does not embody the grace of Jesus. It does not take into consideration that Jesus may do something unexpected in our lives. God’s ways and thoughts are always beyond our own. We always have something to learn, and we can always use more healing in our life.
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