Curing Spiritual Blindness

As I write this, it is 4:40 in the morning at my son’s home in Calgary. I came down from Edmonton yesterday for a visit and to sit in some lectures at the seminary. On my way down, just north of Red Deer, I encountered a white out. The wind had picked up quite a bit and started blowing snow across the highway, you could only see about 10 metres in front of you. Needless to say, everyone slowed down. Speeds dropped by 20-30 km/h as it was almost impossible to see the vehicle in front of you, even with their headlights and taillights on. After about 5 minutes, I passed through that section of highway and everything was clear again.

It reminded me of many of the people whom I’ve met over the years. They can see, but they still seem to go through life blind to the things that really matter. They can physically see, but there is something wrong with their spiritual capacities to discern the beauty and value of what we see so that we always wind up preferring other things over God. Jesus describes it this way in Matthew 13:13, “Seeing they do not see”.

As a Christian and a pastor, I am too often reminded of God’s Great Commission to take the Gospel into all the world, making and baptizing disciples. As I was doing my devotions this morning, a verse from Paul’s life really struck me. In Acts 26:17-19, we read, “I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”

Back in the day, there used to be people who would hand out little leaflets on the street to people explaining the Gospel. There were tracts on the “Four Spiritual Laws” and the “Romans Road”. In fact, there are still people today who do it. They would shove them in your face and say, “Read this!” and then move on to the next person. If I had kept them all, I probably could have opened my own tract store! Back in grade 4, some nice people came to our school and handed out little red Bibles to all the students. I think mine is still in one of the drawers in my mother’s house.

Before I came to faith, I had heard the gospel many times and in some ways, had a respect for it. I had friends from school who were Christians who would judge me about some of the choices I would make in life. On Sundays, I would see the televangelists on TV as I channel surfed watching different NFL games and at times would listen to them call out to the groups they were preaching to repent and clean up their lives. In But I didn’t understand it. In hindsight, I just wished one of these people would just talk to me about God. But no one did.

For me, all the things I saw and heard on TV, the tracts that were placed in my hands, and even the Bible that was given to me by the Gideon’s didn’t change my life. There was no transformation or revelation. Why?

In Acts 16, we read about Paul as he journeyed around preaching the Good News about Jesus. On one occasion, he has an encounter with a woman named Lydia. What is interesting to note about her is the Bible describes her as a “worshiper of God,” but had not encountered Jesus. As Paul shared, in verse 14, it says, “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” She needed enlightenment, a spiritual revelation.

The problem for me was the same. I heard the message many times in my life but my real issue was that I was spiritually blind. I didn’t get it yet. Even later, as I met up with a group of Christian youth and spent hours with some of them talking about my questions, nothing changed. I even went to church, sang the songs, listened to the sermon, there was no change.

But then one day, it just clicked for me. I was at home, sitting in my bedroom, reading the Bible that had been given to me and God opened my eyes. I realized then and there my need for a Savior. God reached into my heart and as Ezekiel 36:26 tells us, gave me a “heart of flesh” so I could understand the things of God. I think this is something many Christians forget. We often think if we say the right thing, live rightly in their presence and give people the right message, they will come to faith. But the Scriptures tell us that salvation is a work of God. He needs to intervene.

The Bible teaches that before we are Christians, we are blind to spiritual truth. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 says, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

If you are a Christian and have unbelieving friends and loved ones, your role in God’s mission in the world is to share the Good News of Jesus with them. But you also have a responsibility to ask God to open their eyes and help them to see for themselves their own need for Him. The salvation process is two-fold. We are the messengers are commanded to share that message with others. But we need to remember that God, through His Spirit, is the One who shines light into people’s hearts so that they can receive it.

As we share the hope within us, let us remember to pray for those with whom we share that God would open their hearts to His love and gift of salvation.


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