Half Seeing (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 3)

half seeing

We’ve been talking about the relative depth of our walk with Jesus and how we might––no, must––find a way to go deeper in him.

  • In Part 1 “He’s Not Here” we looked at how easy it is to forget what Jesus says, especially when we didn’t hear or want to hear it in the first place.
  • In Part 2 “Who Is That Masked Man?” we reviewed the conversation two men had with Jesus, bemoaning how Jesus was nowhere to be found, and how the first prerequisite for deeper revelation is that we actually want

Speaking of actually wanting more revelation, God has ways of increasing our want. One of those ways is found in one of Jesus’ stranger miracles.

When he had spit on the (blind) man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” 

He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Mark 8:22-26

Pretty weird, right? And I’m not just talking about the “spitting” part. The thing that interests me most is that this is the only one of his miracles that required his second touch to finish it.

It’s not like he didn’t have enough power to heal the man outright the first time. Some speculate that the man didn’t have enough faith at first to be healed completely. Maybe?

Cause and effect reasons aside, I’ve been thinking about our tendency to settle for half-seeing, for an opaque revelation of God. It occurs to me that just because we’re no longer entirely blind and can see well enough to avoid bumping into things, it doesn’t mean that our vision is anything near what it could be and what he wants it to be. God wants us to “see everything clearly.”

Just enough revelation to get you saved is not enough revelation to fully enjoy the Savior, to say nothing of helping others enjoy him. A lot of people are satisfied with the Jesus of the one-touch-salvation. Just enough vision to stay within shouting distance of him is good enough for them. They can’t even see well enough to be able to tell the difference between a person and a tree! As long as they can make out a vague outline of his form they’re happy with that. Knowing that someday they’ll “see him face to face” they pursue no clearer vision of him today. They’ll sing the “I-want-to-know-you-more” songs at church but they are content with how little they know him already.

When we only half see, God is out of focus––the Father is more like a Great Grandfather that we only know through snap shots and stories, Jesus is like a brother who died before we were born, and the Spirit is an impersonal wind-like force. We don’t know God, we just know about him.

When we only half see, we mistake the true nature of things, especially the truth about humans versus everything else in creation. We classify all things the same and see no real difference between people and trees. When people are out of focus we can’t see them in their proper dignity as God’s beloved.

When we only half see, we don’t treat our neighbors right, because we’ll only see their outer surface and not their core.

The inhumane ways people treat other people (murder, rape, robbery, slander, exploitation) indicates they make no distinction between humans made in God’s image and oak trees made for humans to steward and enjoy. Our limited revelation of the dignity of humanity affects our treatment of our fellow humans. If all we see is the outer shell of our neighbors and see nothing beneath it, we’ll have no compunctions about hating or hurting them.

If we can’t see beneath the surface, our relationships with one another will all be utilitarian. We’ll use one another instead of value one another. Instead of “How can I serve you?” our question will be, “What can you do for me?”

When we only half see, what we think is right may be wrong and what we think is true may not be entirely so. Trees and people; lies and truth, they’ll be all the same.

I wonder if Jesus “half healed” this guy in order to increase the man’s desire to have a clarity beyond the murky. Maybe he was making a point about half-healed, half-seeing people. Maybe he was saying that we shouldn’t settle for half-a-healing and that we need him to touch us again and again and again to bring things into greater focus. He doesn’t want us to settle for a vague and hazy revelation of him, ourselves, or the world he gave us.

Open the eyes of our heart, Lord. All the way!

Next time we’ll discuss a River “too deep to cross.” But for now, enjoy a stanza from a poem by 17th Century Mystic Jeanne Guyon:

Still, still, without ceasing,

I feel it increasing,

This fervor of holy desire;

And often exclaim,

Let me die in the flame

Of a love that can never expire!


In the meantime, I’d love to hear about the ways you’ve found to increase your spiritual vision… Please share!

6 Replies to “Half Seeing (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 3)”

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