By Matt Schur
My whole life, I’ve had perfect vision. Better than perfect, actually. Not just 20/20, but 20/10, meaning I could (theoretically) see at 20 feet what someone with normal eyesight would need to be 10 feet away to see. I was one of those annoying people who at the eye doctor wouldn’t just read the line with the smallest print—I’d start reading the tiny copyright information at the very bottom of the chart.
All of that changed over the last year and a half.
My eye doctor had warned me for years. “Matt, eventually when you hit your mid-40’s, your eyes are going to start to change and it’s going to be tough for you to read things up close.” I would nod my head, but inside I was silently scoffing. No, not me! I had superhero vision!
Well, as I’m typing this, I’m wearing a pair of $5 grocery store reading glasses. I’ve also started doing that thing where you wear the readers down low on your nose like a stereotypical librarian so that they function kinda like bifocals. I can still see just fine from a distance, but if I’m doing any sort of regular reading, I need my glasses.
My wife and kids think all of this is hilarious.
But it got me thinking: When I read on my own now, my sight is blurred and my view is warped. My eyes need a set of lenses in order for me to see things correctly or as they really are.
It reminds me of how we as Christians approach the Bible or our faith in general. We all have lenses through which we read or live. What we’ve experienced, what we’ve been taught, what’s going on around us and so much more that we bring with us affect how we see our faith, and our faith then becomes a lens through which we see the world and our neighbors. Some of these lenses distort our vision. We’ve all seen the Christian faith used as a pretext for bigotry, hate, and exclusion.
But there is one lens that brings everything into sharp focus. That lens is Christ. God made flesh, who was born, lived on the margins, healed the sick, restored the outcast, and in the grandest gesture of how far God is willing to go to show God’s love for us, willingly went to the cross after being unjustly accused and sentenced to death by the very people he came to save. The same Christ who after three days rose again, defeating the power of sin and death for us.
When we read the Bible through that lens, when we live out our Christian faith through that lens, when Christ becomes the means through which we see and interpret it all, it changes everything. It becomes much more difficult to use the Bible as a weapon when read through the lens of the Prince of Peace. It becomes much harder to justify racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and transphobia when our life is lived through the lens of Jesus’s life and ministry, through his death and resurrection.
One of the many things I appreciate about The Lutheran Center is that it is a place and a community that is focused on helping folks read the Bible and see our faith and the world in general through the lens of Christ. With worship, prayer, study, service, and the building of community, these students are equipped with the lenses of Christ.
One could say they become “cross-eyed.”
Only in this case, that’s a good thing. The kind of thing through which the Holy Spirit changes lives, and in doing so changes the world. Thanks be to God.