Friday, August 26, 2016

Seeing and believing .......... Parables 476

(no date for original)

My mom wears bifocals. Actually, that is not exactly true. She has bifocals. She wears them on a cord around her neck — most of the time. Whenever she tries to read, or watch television, or look out the window, she narrows her eyes and squints.

One day I asked her why she didn’t wear her glasses. Couldn’t she see better with them on? She put them on, looked at the TV, took them off and said, “Yes, I can, but most of the time I don’t want to look at anything.”

I understand that. Some days I don’t want to look at anything either. The news is frightful or repetitive. The day outside is gloomy. Television is nothing but reruns. I’ve read all my books. Why wear glasses?

As my mother grows older, she is becoming less and less interested in life’s confusion. Keeping her eyes off the world is one way to cope with a decreasing ability to make sense of it. Although I understand and even sympathize with her, her attitude reminds me of another type of refusing to see. This one is far more serious, even deadly.

Jesus talked about people “having eyes but seeing not.” He told His disciples that He spoke in parables or stories that would be not be understood by these people because, “though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”

Jesus added “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”

Confused? The Bible explains. When someone hears spiritual truth but ignores or rejects it, their heart (mind) becomes hardened. As the process is repeated, a callous forms and soon that person can no longer hear or understand the truth Jesus proclaimed.

In contrast, those who follow Jesus have a responsibility to both hear and repeat the truth Jesus told. For instance, God gave the Apostle Paul a special mission. He related to King Agrippa what God had told him: “I am sending you to (the Gentiles) to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

Then Paul added, “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.”

As Paul obeyed what God showed him, he was given increasing revelations. The Lord even allowed an “infirmity” or weakness to prevent him from taking pride in that he had seen. Without this “thorn in the flesh,” Paul may have boasted about himself and his knowledge instead of doing the job God sent him to do.

The Pharisee’s illustrate the other end of the matter. They refused to believe anything Jesus said. Before long, even the simplest truths illustrated in parables confused them. Their deliberate choice at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry did them in. That choice was refusal to see the most basic reality: all have sinned (including themselves, the most religious Pharisees) and all need God’s forgiveness and the redemption He offers through faith in His Son.

“Use it or lose it” can be applied to muscle tone, eyesight, and skills — yet the most important application is to spiritual understanding. Whenever anyone refuses to see their own need of God, God politely makes Himself fuzzy, if not invisible, to their sight.

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