Last week we discussed the need for the Lord to change our sight and heal our spiritual vision. In this first installment of the “Recovering Eyes” series we will begin with ourselves. After all, the process of “recovering eyes” begins with us, and how we view ourselves.
A healthy view of ourselves can transform the way we look at other things in life. To have the eyes of Jesus means that our view of the world will be transformed and not just certain parts of our life that we are comfortable with having changed.
There are really 3 different camps of distorted vision that we as Believers can fall into. We can view ourselves as worthless, as someone who has too much of a past, or as someone who has a lot to offer. Let’s start with the first of the three.
“I am Worthless.”
How many of us have thought that? Sometimes the thought doesn’t even cross our mind, but the idea itself rules our life and determines our actions and decisions without us even knowing it. The idea that we are worthless is a dangerous one because it forces many of us to search for worth in unhealthy places… the opposite sex, our hobbies, our job, our appearance, how we dress, accolades from others, etc.
We have all seen it, the mindset of “worthlessness” can cripple some of us and cause us to not do anything and not take any chances or pursue anything in life, or it can do the opposite and force some of us into dark places that we aren’t prepared to be thrust into or were never supposed to venture in the first place.
So many of us find ourselves basing our self-worth on how others see us and on our accomplishments, feeling shame from our past, defining our value based on our looks, or setting unrealistic standards for ourselves.
But, take heart! It doesn’t have to be this way. If only we could see ourselves as God sees us!
The truth is, if we are living to make sure that the world loves us, we give the world permission to evaluate us based what we do and their expectations of us (which don’t line up with Scripture). When we look to the world for our worth we essentially give people the power to determine our self-worth and set the expectations for our life.
Many of us are so concerned with being loved that we might sacrifice our own identity to get attention and acceptance. Go to any Middle School in the country and you will immediately see this in a magnified way, but I say that this problem is just as prevalent in our culture and our church… we might just be too involved in it to see it clearly.
If you think about it you might be able to place your finger on a time when you felt pressure from your church community to live up to a certain image. Now obviously we are talking about expectations that aren’t defined in Scripture, because we are to strive to meet those outlined for us in the Word… but what about the other ideas that the church sometimes unknowingly expresses? For example, how about the idea that women are supposed to be nurturing, quiet and gentle, and raise well-behaved children? Or on the other hand, that men should be a “manly man” who are void of any and all emotional expressions.
If we live to please our church community, we may find ourselves ignoring who God made us to be. Each of us is unique with our own personalities and abilities and sometimes those might not line up perfectly with the mold the world and the church has created.
Our identity is found in Jesus Christ. It is rooted in His freedom-giving mercy. Our identity is that of a Child of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ. We get to experience an intimate relationship with Jesus! Our spiritual inheritance is not based on our identity, but on what God has already accomplished at the cross!
1 Peter 1:3-4 says,
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you.
“My Past is Too Bad”
What does your past look like? How has it shaped you into who you are now? How is it still impacting you? Is it causing you to limit your future or question the forgiving power of Jesus?
The mistakes of our past have a way of becoming like ghosts that roam graveyards in scary movies… we may escape for a period of time but they always return to haunt us.
The past is like our shadow… no matter how hard we try, our past will always be nearby. Certain experiences will trigger emotional responses that will bring us back to our past and we have no choice but to relive those memories. The things in our past while remembered do not have to determine our vision for the present and future.
Often times, people tend to linger in the past in order to make sense of it, and while it does serve as a learning experience we cannot let it hinder us. If we are only focusing on our past, then we are most certainly limiting our future… and that is distorted vision.
Author and Pastor Rick Warren wrote in his book “The Purpose Driven Life that,
We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.
If we don’t deal with issues in our past, they will continue to control us in some way in our present. But they don’t have to! We can deal with past sin, rash decisions, broken relationships, etc… by releasing our past to Jesus and entrusting Him alone with our future. Our struggles can bring us closer to God and heighten our faith as we experience His faithfulness in forgiving us and drawing us closer to Himself.
1 Peter 1:6-7 says,
In this you greatly rejoice, though for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proven genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Ultimately the past pales in comparison to the importance of the moment God has you in right now. Pursue the present and allow God to deal with the past.
Bil Keane once said,
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.
“I have a lot to Offer.”
The last dangerous distortion of our vision is one of ascribing ourselves too much worth. This is a tricky topic because we are worth enough to God for Him to send His Son to die on our behalf… but the distinction here is that God didn’t save us based off of what we have to offer Him. Instead He provided a way of salvation because of His fearless love for us.
If you are like me then you will second my idea that Walmart is a dangerous place. It seems as if you can never go in and exit with just the item you went in for in the first place! I am the worse at this… I go in needing toothpaste and leave with a cart full of outdoor gear and electronics (and usually have forgotten the toothpaste). We all have had these moments where we are strolling down an aisle and something catches our eye… something we have to have… a deal that is just too good to pass up.
Sometimes I feel as if we approach God in that manner. We see ourselves sitting on that shelf in Walmart knowing that we are a deal that is just too good to pass up. Maybe we feel like our “features” can’t be lived without, or we are “new and improved” compared to the older model or the other “brands” around us. Do you see where I am going with this?
Many of us feel like we have a lot to offer God, and in actuality we all do bring something to the table… but guess what?
God didn’t save you or I based off of what we had to offer Him. We weren’t a deal that was just too good to pass up!
A Biblical vision of ourselves is to see ourselves as God sees us. As Children of the one true King… the best Father. A father doesn’t provide for his children out of obligation or because he expects something in return… instead he does so out of love. He doesn’t hold their past over their heads, or his provisions as something they have to earn or make up for. How much more does our Father in Heaven do for us and care for us?
We must adjust our vision and see ourselves as heirs to the Kingdom and as beloved children plucked out of despair for a future, which God has ordained for us.
Next week we will discuss another area where we need vision realignment! Again, I will leave you with the famous words of John Newton,
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.