I wear glasses. I have for most of my life. And as is the case with most people who wear glasses, I hated them as a kid. It seemed to me that they were more of a nuisance than they were helpful, but this fallacy was often squashed when I would forget them at home when I went to school and needed to see clearly. They never stayed clean or in proper working order for very long. My eyes got worse and my mother or grandmother would have to take me to the optometrist for a new prescription. It seemed like a never-ending cycle, really.
Fast forward to the late 90s. I was an active duty Navy Corpsman and, because of my job, was eligible for the latest and greatest radial keratotomy (or RK). This procedure involved having a navy ophthalmologist numb my eyes, clamp them, and cut them, by hand, with a diamond-blade scalpel, reshaping my cornea to correct my vision. Needless to say, I was nervous and very glad to have Valium beforehand. My appreciation for not having to wear glasses soon waned and I began to take for granted my new freedom from being an optically-challenged American. However, this blissful period was short lived.
A few short years later, the benefits of my procedure began to deteriorate. Reluctantly, I was forced back into glasses. Ugh. A couple years later I decided to go through with the newest form of surgery; Lasik. At my consultation, the ophthalmologist looked into my eyes and said, “oh…” Never a good thing, right? He informed me that, because of the scarring from the previous procedure, the Lasik either may not work or may decline sooner than expected without the possibility of a later enhancement. Disregarding the potential warnings, I went through with it. It was great for a couple years, but can anyone guess what I wear again?
I told you all that to tell you this: I’m now 40 years old, wearing glasses, and I’m happy to have them. I no longer feel entitled to perfect vision because of youth or financial ability. I’m gl
ad to have them because of the world they help me see more clearly. They are no longer a nuisance, but I cannot stand for them to be left dirty. Why? Because through them, I want to be able to see things as clearly as possible. I want to be able to appreciate God’s creation around me with fervent zeal.
Self-check time. How often do you treat your faith in Christ as dirty glasses? How often do you take for granted the ability Christ gives you to be free from sin through His imputed righteousness?
I see so many of my Christian brothers and sisters taking for granted what God (the Great Ophthalmologist, if you will) has given them in Jesus Christ (their glasses). For years, I refused to acknowledge the fact that I needed what the Ophthalmologist had to offer. Why? Because it meant I had to wear the glasses regardless of what I thought. It meant relinquishing control. It meant that my life would, undeniably, have to change. It did not matter to me that, through Christ, I could see everything clearly, because, unconsciously, I knew it would reveal to me things about myself that I refused to accept as unrighteous.
But, here’s the kicker: because of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, my unrighteousness no longer matters! When Christ died, my sin was imputed upon Him. When I finally came to the realization that the Ophthalmologist was offering me a gift through which I could see not only my sin, but my salvation, I knew there was no turning back.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?”
Every morning I clean my glasses. When we pray to God and truly repent of our sin in our heart, we are cleaning our glasses. Why, then, do some only clean one lens, or worse, refuse to clean them at all? Why do we pray to God, asking for help as we live in acceptance of our sin, expecting Him to overlook our blatant disregard for His sacrifice? It’s as if we are telling Jesus, “Thanks for washing away my past, but I’ve got it from here.”
Romans 6:1-4 resonates in my soul, daily: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
I implore you; read that last passage over and over until it resonates with you. Understand what it truly means. If you struggle with it, talk to a spiritual leader you trust to rightly divide it (not just tell you what you want to hear). Do not assume it to mean something it does not in order to make Christianity fit your life; instead, adjust your life to fit Christianity. Cultural Christianity, Christian hedonism, Christian atheism, and false teachers that preach the prosperity gospel (all of which I will write about later) are leading our flock away from salvation into eternal damnation. You do not have to accept this for it to be true. God is right to forgive, but He is also right to judge those that disregard the Gospel they only claim to believe.
My glasses get dirty every day, but I now have enough love and respect for the authority of God not to accept it. I clean them to see clearly, through Christ, what I have received. When we made a decision to follow Christ, we made a decision to die to ourselves (Galatians 2:20). If we wish to follow Christ, we are commanded to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23). We would do well to remember this, daily. Our salvation depends on it.