My eyes play tricks on me - or maybe it is my mind. Likely it is both of them conspiring together. In my work, I have thoroughly searched a piece of paper for a certain phrase and have not been able to find it, only to have a coworker point it out with a single glance. I have triple-checked and noted an error in an address between two places where it was written, but then looked back again to see that there was no error after all. Moments like this are shocking and disturbing to me. We rely upon our senses, and our minds' interpretation of that data, for practically everything, so we don't want to think that our input can be corrupted somewhere along the pipeline!
I have come to realize through all of this just how much I depend upon God's grace to be able to see the world as it really is. I already know that my heart is traitorous, and now I am discovering that my mind and my eyes can be too.
I think about this in relation to an atheist that I came into contact with last year. This man so completely hates the idea of God that he has devoted his entire Facebook profile to making belligerent statements against those who believe. He ridicules the Bible and anyone who confesses to hold to its truths. And as I think about him this morning, I understand that what he really needs is for the blinders to be taken off. He has been blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and he is dead in his trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), and the only thing that can ever change him is if God opens his eyes, removes the blinders, speaks into his mind "Let there be light", and brings him to life from the dead (2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 2:4-5).
But this man does not deserve for God to bring him to life in this way. He has said so many blasphemous things against God and His revelation of Himself in His Word that he deserves to be dragged alive into hell, kicking and screaming and weeping. But here's the clincher: so did I...No; so do I, and so do you. This man's rebellious heart is no different from any other individual's in the history of humankind (except One). Romans 3:10-18 tells us how it really is:
None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.
That's not a description of only part of the human race - the people you don't like. That's a description of the whole human race, and you and I are included in that! This is what spiritual blindness looks like. It's what a broken mind and perverted senses look like. A person who is still living in that original human condition, inherited from our forefather Adam, just can't see the Truth, just can't hear the Truth, and just can't love the Truth. It can be right in front of their faces and yet they miss it. And we all know people - even loved ones - who have been exposed to the Gospel over and over again, but they just don't want it. Nothing we can do will make them want it, either.
Thankfully, it's not all up to us! We are commanded to tell the Good News, but we are not commanded to bring the dead to life. That's God's work! He can remove the blinders from any man, no matter how far gone. Take the apostle Paul, for instance: he was trying to kill the followers of the Messiah and silence their message right up until Jesus said, "Let there be light" into his darkened mind.
This should be a profound encouragement to us, both in our struggle for the souls of our loved ones and every time we share the Gospel. The Spirit blows where He wills (John 3:8) and has the power to make spiritually dead people be born again into life. He can cause the blind to see His glory by graciously opening their eyes. That's encouraging because that's work that we can't do! If He chooses to illuminate the one to whom we are witnessing, then praise God; another brother or sister has come into the family! If He chooses not to, then we can be confident that He has His own reasons for not doing it, and those reasons are wise and good and perfect. That encourages me to share my faith more because the pressure is off of me. It's easy to just tell someone about Jesus and what He has done and then leave all of the heavy lifting to God.
And for those of us who have had these spiritual eyes openened, we need to be continually thankful for His ongoing work of feeding our spiritual senses with Truth. And we need to be conscious of the fact that He actually does this. We can't trust our senses or our intellect to provide accurate information without the grace of God at work, but we can always trust our Savior to provide all that we need.