An “Eye” (I?) Problem

My glasses broke just before lockdown.

Days before the worldwide pandemic forced us in doors, the eye glasses I depend on daily, were no longer dependable!

Finding myself half blind and with no hope for new glasses any time soon, I scrambled through my nightstand drawer and pulled out an old pair I kept buried away for such emergencies

They were scratched and bent. Putting them on for the first time, I quickly realized they had an old prescription. Distant object lost their focus and appeared fuzzy. Peering through my old lens was like looking at life crossed eyed.

But it was all I had. After a week of wearing my former spectacles, I almost forgot that I couldn’t see as well as I used to. After a month, my blurry sight became a new normal. Squinting at the TV was a way of life. Asking my wife to read the time became old hat. Nighttime headaches were my cross to bear.

Then lockdown ended. And I was the first to walk back through my optometrist’s door.

Three weeks later, I received the long awaited phone call. “Mr. Rogers, your new glasses are ready to be picked up.”

I zoomed to the optometrist as quick as I could. It was a joyous moment when they cracked opened the eyeglasses case and set my new frames on my face.

My first thought: Have I ever been able to see this well!?

It was like I was seeing everything in 3D. I looked to the far wall and could read the sign. My eyes felt whole again for the first time in months. I was viewing life in full HD after an eternity of viewing it through a CRT television.

I was reminded that my life of squinting and headaches was not normal. My vision was restored. I had an eye problem, but there was a solution.

In Philipians 2, Paul described an eye problem that stretches far beyond half-blind pastors in lockdown:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (v. 3-4).

Paul observes the culture around him and all he sees is selfishness and conceit. Everyone is living for themselves. They are only concerned with number one: me. Paul is worried that the self-centered attitude of the world has pervaded the church (surely not!).

So, Paul boiled it all down to this question: Where are you looking?

For Paul, the world didn’t just have an issue with pride. It had an issue with perception!

You see, selfish people wear the wrong glasses. They are looking only to their own interests. They are focused only on their own needs.

They have an “eye” problem as well as an “I” problem.

But Paul urges the Church to something different. When everyone else is wearing the old lenses of conceit, the Church should be wearing the new lenses of humility.

“When we are not engaged in thinking about some definite problem, we usually spend about 95 percent of our time thinking about ourselves.”

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

In 2018, an article published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience detailed a study by neuroscientists in which they looked at the Default Mode Network (DMN) of the brain. This is a network of various brain areas that show increased activity whenever a person isn’t focused on anything in particular. This network is the equivalent of leaving your car running in the driveway. What do you think about when your brain is idle? 1

Through various testing, scientist found the answer: Whenever you aren’t thinking about anything, you think about yourself!

Wearing “I” glasses is natural and is typically our default. We think about ourselves and look out for our own needs and wants.

But what would happen if you allowed Christ to “renew your mind” (Romans 12:2) and instead switched your default from looking in to looking out?

It’s time for us to exchange our “haughty eyes” for a new pair of lenses, and “proud hearts” for hearts of humility. (Pro. 21:4)

As you go about your day, where are you looking? To your own interests or to the interests of others?

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