Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What You Can't See Can Hurt You

Ever been driving down the highway and gone to change lanes, only to find, at the last minute, that somebody is in your way? You looked over your shoulder, checked your mirrors, did all the things that driving school taught you, but somehow you missed that car, truck, motorcycle, or other vehicle that was in the way. Maybe it was coming up quickly and in your glance over your shoulder or in the mirror, you missed it. Maybe it changed lanes while your head was turned. Regardless of how they got there, they got there, and your heart skipped a beat as you quickly turned the wheel to avoid a collision.

You’ve now been introduced to your “blind spot.” No matter how experienced of a driver you are, no matter what your record has been, we all have blind spots, we all have places where we can’t see. In driving, our mirrors can usually help us out, they can be adjusted to show some of the areas that we have a hard time reaching with our eyes. But what do we do when it comes to our personal life where we still have blind spots? What are the “mirrors” that we use? Do we use our “mirrors” or do we recklessly negotiate through the roads and highways of life hoping that nobody gets in our way?

We have been going through the hard sayings of Jesus during our Sunday morning services at church. A few weeks ago, the message came from Matthew 7 where Jesus has some clear teaching regarding our blind spots. He said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

Let me just say that people take that first verse and apply it wrongly. There is a difference between judging and holding someone accountable. Recently, a Christian musician announced that she had embraced a homosexual lifestyle. She was on the Larry King show where they had also brought in a pastor who had spoken out on his blog against her decision. She made some fairly direct statements to him regarding him condemning her. But was he really condemning her, or was he pointing out her blind spot, was he holding her accountable?

But I digress, Jesus’ words hit to the core of the issue, take care of your own blatant sin before you go pointing out the sin and flaws in others around you. We can take this passage to any number of extremes by saying, “Well, I will never be free of sin, so therefore I will never be able to point out others’ sin.” To say that seems to miss the point. Walking around with a beam in your eye seems to be symbolic of something fairly glaring, but sometimes, things that might be glaring to everybody else is not glaring to us. Maybe we’ve gotten used to that beam in our eyes. Maybe we have somehow deceived ourselves into thinking that it doesn’t exist, despite our impaired vision. Jeremiah the prophet wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” We can deceive ourselves pretty quickly. We all have blind spots.

The key to seeing these blind spots is using your “mirrors.” This really had to happen through relationship. What makes us have confidence in our “mirrors”? What makes us know that they are reliable? How can we trust them? It’s only through relationship. Random people coming up to me and pointing out my blind spots are not going to be effective because there is no relationship there. But, if I have someone in my life who has invested in me, regardless of whether I agree with them or not, and regardless of whether their initial suggestion or accusation hurts me, I will be more likely to receive and consider their words if there is a relationship there.

Back to the Christian singer, part of the problem with this pastor speaking publicly on his blog about her is that there is no relationship there. At the same time, she is in the public spotlight. She has chosen to live a public life. She has chosen to reveal her decision in a very public manner. From one leader and example within the church to another, the relational need may be trumped. As a fellow representative of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, does he have a right to speak out against her decision?

At some point in our lives, all of us will be walking around with planks or beams in our eyes. At some point in our lives, we will deceive ourselves into thinking that there are no issues, no sins, that we need to take care of or confess. We all need some sort of accountability. We need somebody in our lives who will not be afraid to ask the hard questions. We need somebody who can risk their relationship with us to tell us things that will be for our overall well-being in the long run. We can’t surround ourselves with people who will constantly affirm us, even when we make bad decisions. We can’t surround ourselves with people who we constantly agree with. That’s not accountability.

Not a day goes by that I don’t need to lean on God’s grace for my sin and imperfection. I fall short of the holiness and glory of God regularly. But sometimes, I can’t see how short I fall. I need people to help me to see those blind spots when I fail to see them myself. If we truly desire to live a life that pleases God, a life where we strive for perfection and Christ-likeness, we all need that. Have you checked your mirrors lately? Are they working right?

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