I was a wee little lad long ago when I graced the halls of my elementary school. I had my fair share of physical… “underdevelopments” you might say… at that time, but one thing I never struggled with was eyesight. Even to this day I’m thankful to have great eyes but this wasn’t the case for everyone else.
There were always a few kids early on who got stuck with glasses by second grade. This was generally a death blow for their young aspiring hopes to climb the social ladder. It was in these olden days that if a kid had to wear glasses you naturally would make fun of him by calling him “four-eyes.” Ostracize him for his lack of sight. I actually fell prey to such an attack after a few of my friends began to harass one of these glasses donning chaps – blasted gravitational pull of peer pressure! Alas. We did get caught and confronted by our teacher later. Sweet justice for the blurry eyed! My friends quickly attempted the denial trick, hoping that would save them, but it was no match for my waterfall of tears that came through when I sobbingly confessed for us all.
I felt so ashamed in that moment. I had nothing against glasses or those who wore them. Besides. I didn’t have the slightest clue what it was like to try and see without them. From what I hear it is not only annoying but can be quite dangerous – just ask your friendly neighborhood grandpa about his latest driving adventure. Not being able to see clearly can go from frustrating to flat out murderous at times.
Now, you see (see what I did there? Oh! Double! Nerd level 3,000 unlocked!), this is not only the case physically but also spiritually. When it comes to knowing – or better yet, seeing – God, we need something to help us out with our blindness (don’t think we are blind? Just take a gander at something like 2 Cor. 4:4). And when it comes to God, none of us are born with good eyesight – we are all in need of some high powered, gold rimmed, bifocals. We could use some Lasik for our blindness. But where in the world are we to get these dorky and yet sight-giving glasses at? Take a quick listen to Calvin, why don’t we? (Yes! It’s true! Calvin doesn’t only talk about predestination! In fact, he talks about other things a whole lot more! But straw men are kind of fun to bash sometimes…)
“Just as old or bleary-eyed men and those with weak vision, if you thrust before them a most beautiful volume, even if they recognize it to be some sort of writing, yet can scarcely construe two words, but with the aid of spectacles will begin to read distinctly; so Scripture, gathering up the otherwise confused knowledge of God in our mind, having dispersed our dullness, clearly shows us the true God.” The Institutes 1.6.1
Ah! Now we see! Sure, general revelation alone could potentially give us a blurry understanding that there might be a God but it wont be enough to know the “true God” until we get some spectacles on and can really see what is going on. This, Calvin shows us, is the Bible! Before the Spirit gives us a new heart and some new stylish glasses we are like an old man who is legally blind in all respects and yet thinks he still has his sight. He walks around with an aura of security and yet – in reality – he is helpless. He is blind. Even if you gave him a gift, say, of eyesight – glasses! – he still wouldn’t have the slightest clue he had it if they weren’t put on him. The problem isn’t so much that he cant intellectually grasp what is in front of him but that he cant even see what is in front of him! He needs some gospel glasses (don’t you like the g/g combo there?) to be given to him so he can see what is really true.
Nowadays, it is quite popular to talk of “worldviews” or “stories” when it relates to our understanding of the world. I think the metaphor of glasses or lenses might fit right in. When we are given these glasses, suddenly everything is made clear. Suddenly we are able to comprehend what is going. Suddenly, when we couldn’t make out a sign just 10 feet in front of us, it is now crystal clear and the world begins to make sense. It is this way with knowledge of God. Before we come to Scripture we are unable to comprehend what is true about him but when the spectacles of scripture are thrust upon us by the Spirit we can finally see who God is and what he is like. Now we have a way to understand God.
Thank God for such glasses! Now. To get back to wearing them. If you’ll excuse me. Off to Leviticus I go.