I’ve needed corrective lenses from the time I was in elementary school. Probably longer, though my parents and teachers didn’t realize it until I was deep into fourth grade. The seating chart positioned me towards the back of the class that year, and in my generation, most teachers still set up their classrooms in rows that ran front to back, facing a chalkboard. Squint as I might, my own misshapen biological lenses could not do their job to bring the blurry white lines into focus. I needed help to engage the world with clarity.
Each of us is born with not only a biological lens but also a spiritual one: God has written His truth on our hearts. (Romans 1:19-20 and 2:14-15) But in the aftermath of the Fall, we can no longer see clearly or fully. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Unfortunately, as in the case with the astigmatism I describe above, sin has caused a deviation in our worldview lenses. They need intentional shaping.
As a middle-school basketball player, and reflective of the emotions of that stage, I had a love-hate relationship with my glasses. They helped me see, yes, but flying elbows or the ball itself constantly knocked them off my face (even with eyewear retainers) and threw them violently to the ground. My teammates were not my friends when it came to keeping my eyewear intact. Still, I saw better with them than without, even after the external pressures and abuse they received. That first pair of glasses had lenses heavily scratched, frame bent in a parody of the unnatural angle of a broken limb, by the time I went for an upgrade. I traded in my light pink frames for more sophisticated tortoiseshell rims with spring-action temples: ready to meet all the challenges of high school.
Worldview as a lens or window not only helps us see with clarity, but it also protects us when facing life’s storms. Philosophies of the world (Colossians 2:8) held by professors and peers, though empty and deceitful, strike against our hearts and minds. Secular and pagan ideas may buffet and challenge us, but those challenges also stir our appetite for truth. In our hunger, we trade in milk for meat, childlike faith for the faith of the mature “who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14) As we grow up into Christ, we learn of His intentions for us to follow after Him in His suffering and not lose heart. (2 Corinthians 4:16-17) Instead, we learn to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly (Micah 6:8) through the very pressures that refine us.
Each of us is born with not only a biological lens but also a spiritual one: God has written His truth on our hearts.
My relationship with corrective lenses has developed maturity and endured setbacks through the 35 years I’ve depended on them at every waking hour for vision. My driver’s license makes it very clear that I should be doing ZERO driving without something firmly on the bridge of my nose or floating atop my cornea. My senior year of high school, when I first started using contact lenses, I almost forgot they were there. I slept in them once or twice during my college years and realized quickly how easy it was to take them for granted. Even those lenses require careful stewardship, arguably greater care, as they make contact with a rather delicate organ. Contact lenses act like sponges. I must engage good hygiene practices to keep both my lenses and my eyes healthy, making routine trips to the ophthalmologist for adjustments and to discern the health of my eyes. As adept as I have become at functioning with lenses, looking at the world through them with greater perspicuity, I rely on the expertise and authority of another to refine them, maintain them, keep them whole.
I am best equipped to reflectively scrutinize and compassionately engage with the varied human worldview perspectives when my worldview receives nurture through means of grace: scripture, prayer, sacrament, fellowship.
Matthew 6:22-24 impresses on me the spiritual and literal weightiness of this. With worldview, if I fail to keep it saturated with the gospel (if I allow my lens to absorb secular thinking), it will deteriorate more quickly. My mind will become clouded; my soul will suffer. I am best equipped to reflectively scrutinize and compassionately engage with the varied human worldview perspectives when my worldview receives nurture through means of grace: scripture, prayer, sacrament, fellowship. I need to submit to the Father’s good authority, daily depend on the good news of Jesus (His life, death, and resurrection), and the Spirit’s sanctifying work. The redemptive frame holds the lenses of our worldview in place, and brings health to the bones. (Proverbs 3)
My corrective lenses get stronger and more diverse in their function as I age—one contact for reading, one for distance. I become more dependent on them, and they become more precious to me. I watch my mom’s scare of skin cancer near her eye, her macular degeneration, her struggle to communicate by text or email without reading glasses perched on her impish nose. The thought of increased frailty and dependency hems me in, sobers me.
Then, in awe I recognize that someday when the last tear falls from our eyes, all the flaws of that precious organ, along with the lenses we have needed to see the world, will fall away. We will no longer struggle with double vision. The image and the reality, spirit and flesh, will come together into final focus as He makes us whole, complete, one. We will see Him with unveiled face (2 Corinthians 3:18) as He truly is (1 John 3:2) and in the seeing be made just like Him.