Not everyone sees what is in plain sight. Many people see what they want to see. Many people are blind and even deluded and impose things into what they see, or ignore things they don’t want to see.
People do this for various reasons. I recall a Body Language talk pointing out how we turn a blind eye to things we find uncomfortable. The example used is that a child tends to ignore evidence that their father is afraid. The child’s world anchors on the belief that ‘Daddy will keep us safe’. If Daddy is afraid it suggests the child is not safe. Children don’t want to see that signal so they tend to excuse, ignore or re-interpret signs that Daddy is afraid.
People usually ignore their faults or weaknesses. “It can’t be true” is people’s way of saying, “I don’t want it to be true”. We have an inbuilt rejection of things we don’t like. It was true in Bible times too.
“They have closed their eyes, lest at any time they should see, and hear, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I would heal them.” Matthew 13:15
People often ignore signs they are sick, especially of a life-threatening disease.
A skin cancer expert I once worked with had a photo of a man with massive ulceration covering most of his back. The man kept putting off going to the doctor. It seems the man was afraid the giant ulcer might be serious and kept applying lotions, hoping it would heal.
We each have eyes that do not see. Often our eyes are veiled by things we are taught. If we have an idea of how something is meant to be we read into the evidence what we expect to see.
In the 2019 Australian Election, as an example, polls indicated a landslide win for the Labor Party, removing the incumbent Liberals. When vote counting began commentators read into the numbers what they expected to see. I saw in the early counting a reporter identify the swing to Labor in multiple seats. By late that evening it was clear there was a landslide against Labor, not for it. The incumbent was returned and pundits were embarrassed. Observers began seeing what they expected to see, and it was hard for them to give up their expectation as evidence piled up.
Biblically there is a condition referred to as having a veil over the eyes. The veil stops people from seeing what is true and keeps them locked into their set of beliefs.
“The minds of the Jews were closed. To this day the same veil remains at the reading of the old covenant. …. Even to this day when the writings of Moses are read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” 2Corinthians 3:14-16
Another Bible term for this is being ‘blind’. The Jews of Jesus’ day did not recognise Him as Messiah. They were blind. And once the Church was birthed on the Day of Pentecost the Jews could not imagine pleasing God by faith instead of the law.
“Partial blindness has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles comes in.” Romans 11:25
When James and John offered to torch a Samaritan village Jesus rebuked them, saying they did not realise the kind of spirit motivating them. They were blind to something that should have been very obvious, that killing people for rejecting Jesus was opposite to the gospel.
“Jesus rebuked them, and said, You don’t know what manner of spirit you are of.” Luke 9:55
People very close to Jesus could still be blind to things. That includes Peter who was sure he would never deny Jesus, rejecting Jesus warning he would deny Jesus three times. So blindness is something we should not be surprised to find in ourselves.
This blindness or veiling is where people are blind because it suits them. This blindness has people convinced there is no God, because they don’t want to admit being wrong or being accountable to God. That’s the blindness Apostle John talked about when he said people preferred darkness to the light.
“This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19,20
There is another type of blindness or veiling of the mind. It’s blindness imposed by our culture and the messages we get through life. It is where we are held by useless thoughts (vain ideas) we are sure are correct.
An example is a woman whose husband recently died. In her church death is celebrated religiously, involving specified times for repeated reminders of the death, such as lighting candles, visiting the grave and so on. This preoccupation with death imposed greater concern about duties to the dead than relationship with the living.
The woman was losing contact with and becoming angry with her children and grandchildren, because of obsession with her religious duties to the dead husband. It is as if a veil has come over her and she has lost sight of the impact of what she is doing. Religious duty blinded her.
Interestingly Solomon pointed out that a living dog is more valuable than a dead lion. A lion might be a mightier creature than a dog, but once it is dead it is of far less capacity than the dog.
“There is hope for the one joined to all the living: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.” Ecclesiastes 9:4
That woman’s obsession with the dead reflects a host of areas where we become too preoccupied with things to see the reality around us. Such as a man so obsessed with work he fails to see he is losing his family. Or the person so determined to succeed at sport, or some endeavour they don’t see all the better possibilities they ignore. Or chasing money when we are not going to spend it anyway, or becoming an expert in some irrelevant branch of knowledge, and so on.
In such cases the person’s mind is veiled and they can’t see straight until the veil has been pulled off. Maybe it’s to remove ‘rose coloured glasses’ or blinkers. Maybe it’s to let them see and appreciate things that have always been around them but which they have never noticed, as when people can suddenly ‘smell the roses’.
You don’t know what you don’t know. You can’t see what you can’t see. You don’t understand what you don’t understand. But God does know and God does see and God does understand. To be sure you are not living with a veil over your eyes, or with eyes that don’t see and ears that don’t hear, or with spiritual blindness, I urge you to humble yourself before God and ask Him to show you what you need to see.
“Open my eyes, Lord. I want to see Jesus. I want to see what You see. I want to see myself for who I really am, and I want to see Your power and grace on my behalf and how to fully apply it in my life. I want to see where what I am doing is vain and empty, and how to change anything and everything about my life so I am living in the light of the gospel and seeing clearly. I ask You to do these things in me. In Jesus’ powerful name, Amen.”
And so, my friends, may you have Eyes That See.