It’s been several years since I have seen an eye doctor. Through moving around and a lack of insurance, updating my glasses was not much of a priority, besides I could see just fine. Now blessed with vision as apart of my family’s insurance plan and the fact my previously glasses were broken by my son, I was forced to use an old back up pair from the Marine Corps. These old glasses, though the prescription was the same, looked like they had been sandblasted, which encouraged me to finally spend the money to get a new pair.
So off to the optometrist.
Thinking my exam was just a required hoop to jump through to allow me to purchase new glasses and potentially contacts, I assumed it would all remain the same. While looking through my old lenses, and using a slow and methodical process, I could pass the 20/20 test. However, it was after a series of “which one is better? 1… or 2; 3…. or 4….“ that I begin to see in a whole new way. Through a series of somewhat small and insignificant changes, the update to my prescription was a greater benefit than I had imagined. See, after a direct comparison of old prescription to the new one, I was amazed at how “out of focus” my vision had become. Taking the vision test again with the new adjustments, I read the smallest letters as if it were a billboard as I breezed through the 20/20 line. All this time I needed an updated prescription and I was completely oblivious to my blurred vision. What was once, a line of letters that I could read with careful thought, I could now see and read without effort.
I think this happens with our faith. We go on for days, months and even years and think everything is fine. Sometimes we may even feel that we got things mostly figured out. We can know what is right and wrong, and when something does go wrong, with careful thought we feel we can handle it in an honorable fashion. It’s at these moments I feel it’s critical to be examined by The Great Physician. You might say, "well Joey I know that I will never have it all figured out". It seems like the obvious answer to say that we will always be growing in our faith. But when was the last time you had the eyes of your heart checked? How does your current “spiritual vision” line up with the Word of God? Have you ever prayed like David did in the Psalms? "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" (Psalm 139: 23-24)
You might be like me, you could see well, live your life, and be none the wiser to your slightly out of focus perspective. But through prayer, the Word, or worship, the Holy Spirit updates your prescription showing you how out of focus your vision became. This ever growing and changing prescription in known as sanctification.
“May the God of Peace Himself sanctify you completely...” 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
This is a prayer from Paul to the church in Thessalonica. In this verse, we see that God is the one who sanctifies, and just like my illustration, it takes an optometrist, someone who is an expert in all things vision, to update the prescription. However, sanctification is not merely a passive experience. We do not walk through life expecting an optometrist to stop us in the street and say “Hey you…ya you with eyeballs, come here and let me test your vision”. We have to place ourselves where the optometrist is, under his care and supervision. Like wise, we do not sit on our hands and hope God will change us. It requires action, like praying as David did, to put ourselves in the presence of the one who can reveal our need for change. Just before verse 23 Paul writes:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-21
Paul is telling the Thessalonians to take action, to put God first, “with out ceasing” and “in all circumstances”. Just as Paul instructed in his letter, we also must walk through life and see it through the lens of Gods Word, through worship and prayer. Even when we feel like our vision is fine, when in comparison to the perfection of God’s Word, we then find the need to have our prescription updated. We can be altered in a way so that the things that may of been small blurry letters, are now blatantly clear like a billboard.
Thankfully we are not the doctors who have to prescribe the correction, that’s the work of the Spirit, but we have to be willing to get our eyes checked.