This summer Shi and I started bike riding again. We used to do it all the time in college, but then, you know, life happens, and next thing you know the bike is rusting in the shed. But this summer I got a new set of wheels, I tuned Shiloh’s bike up and we’ve been on the trails as much as possible. When I’m home I try to use my bike instead of driving for my errands around town. When you start riding your bike around the city it’s easy to tell how easily the city and other drivers see the needs of bicyclists. Often I’m cruising right along on the sidewalk and then, slam, there’s a 2-foot drop out of nowhere going straight into a sewer. Oftentimes though, it’s the car drivers that are the worst, pulling deep into intersections and across sidewalks and cutting you off simply because they don’t see you or how they are effecting you.
After riding my bicycle for a while and then getting into the car I realized all of those things that drove me nuts when I was on my bicycle, those were the same things I did while driving my own car. What an eye opener! It felt like a simple thing I should have seen sooner, but I didn’t realize it because I was too busy with where I was going and what I was trying to do. Always in such a hurry that I didn’t see how pulling deep into that intersection, just to gain a few extra feet, actually affects the people around me.
Sometimes we have a hard time seeing what’s right in front of our faces.
We do it to each other all the time:
Only seeing our own busyness we don’t see someone else’s heart.
Only seeing our own anger we don’t see someone else’s need.
Only seeing our own guilt we don’t see someone else’s hurt.
Only seeing our own desires we don’t see someone else’s worth.
Only seeing our selves we don’t really see the people around us.
It’s like how the Bible talks about seeing the splinter in your neighbor’s eye, being really critical and judgmental about someone else, but not seeing the entire log that is sitting in your own eye, blind to your own faults and failings.
Half the time we don’t even realize we’re doing it, like the blind leading the blind, no one truly realizing they can’t see clearly. Is it any wonder then if we can’t see each other clearly, people who are right in front of our faces, that we have a hard time seeing God?
The pointers in creation and the natural order are all there directing us to see God, like the reasons why there is something rather than nothing, because the conditions to make the universe, let alone life exist are so implausible, so precise, so inconceivable, left to chance alone, that nothing should exist, we shouldn’t be having this conversation right now, but still we are…
Likewise, we spend so much time looking for what we want to see that we’re not seeing what is right in front of us, what God is showing us in Jesus.
We want to see celebrities but we see a man lowly in appearance.
We want to see power but we see a servant.
We want to see our enemies punished but we see forgiveness.
We want to see glory but we see a crucified savior.
Because what we want to see ultimately is not what God is showing us. God is showing us the hidden paths of righteousness and the way of salvation, hidden not because of God but because of our own blindness to what is holy and good and pure.
Is it little wonder then for us to see clearly that we have to die a little bit ourselves? Jesus teaches that a seed must fall to the ground and die before it can grow and produce fruit. When the seed falls to the ground and dies, which part of it dies?
The husk, the outside layer hiding the true plant inside. Maybe part of what needs to die for us is that husk, that outside layer, hardened by the world, that we look through and prevents us from seeing God and his goodness.
But that is so hard for us, it means admitting that in very deep and habitual ways we are the cause of our own spiritual blindness. What we spend our time watching on our televisions and tablets and movie screens can burn the faith right out of our eyes. A little sex here, a lot of killing there, a world where people live like there is no God everywhere, will blind you. How we allow ourselves to look at others, through the filter of our own desires and preconceptions makes the real person blurry and out of focus. Its like living in a dark house for so long, that your eyes are only adjusted for the darkness and everything that lurks within the darkness is what you have become accustomed to seeing. Living like that long enough you start shunning the natural light of God because it burns your eyes.
Is that a good way to live, seeing the darkness but being blinded to the light?
Instead, God in His grace has given us a different way of seeing, a way unexpected in the darkness, seeing through the cross and the light of Christ. Because that is what the cross does, it doesn’t stay away from the darkness but pierces it, going to the very deepest, darkest parts of this world, so those who are blinded by the darkness can start to see the light. Look there is God, right there at the worst our world has to offer, God didn’t wait for you to come to the light but God came to you in the dark. God died in the dark so you could live in the light. Are you lost in the darkness, look to the cross at the heart of the darkness and see the light and love of God.
Do you want to see clearly?
Look to the cross.
See the world as it is, both in its sin and redemption.
Do you want to see God?
Look to the cross.
See how God loves you.
Do you want to see the people around you clearly?
Look through the cross.
That is a person Jesus died for.
Do you want to see yourself clearly?
Look in the mirror and make the sign of the cross.
You are loved by God and redeemed by Jesus upon the cross.
Do you want to see?
Look to the cross. Amen.