Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Our ability to see clearly is dependent on the condition of our hearts, which are made and kept pure through Scripture, worship and prayer.

How many of you wear glasses? I’ve worn mine since I was seven years old. I was able to wear contact lenses for about 20 years but after about 40 they don’t work so well. And even contacts with the new technology, entails juggling with reading glasses, since I have to wear bifocals. So I’m back to glasses. And every time I turn around I have to clean them off. I used to just pull out a shirt-tail or get a clean tissue but it turns out that abrades off the non-glare coating that I pay through the nose for, so I’m pretty careful to use a gentle detergent and a soft cloth. It’s a major pain.

Everybody in my family wears glasses. And all my three god-children wear them, too. Ted started when he was 2 or 3, because he has amblyopia - you know, lazy-eye syndrome - and he’s now 17. But neither he nor Philip, the 15-year-old, have learned to keep their glasses clean. A few years back I gave each of them a little bright-colored plastic case with special glasses wipes in them that they could clip to their belts or their backpacks, but did either of them think to use them? Not the whole time I was there. but it drives me crazy to have so much as a little spot on my glasses, and yet they went around with so much sludge on their glasses - and I mean sludge, not smudge - that I couldn’t even see in. Nowadays

they’re much more obsessive about their looks - girls, you know - and so they wear contact lenses most of the time.

But has it ever occurred to you how many people go around their whole lives with their spiritual lenses just that blurry? I’m not even talking about non-Christians, here. I’m talking about people who know their spiritual vision needs correcting, they’ve gotten their glasses, but they don’t bother with the minimum level of maintenance to keep them doing what they are designed to do.

How many of you are wondering what I’m talking about?

Let me explain.

Our ability to see clearly is dependent on the condition of our hearts. You all know the phrase, “rose-colored glasses”, right? That means seeing the world with an optimistic perspective; a person with rose-colored glasses always sees the good side of things, always expects things to turn out right. That perspective is the result of the condition of their hearts.

Many of you have heard the story of the traveler looking for a new place to settle down who drove up to the gas station on the outskirts of a small town and asked the attendant what kind of people lived there. The attendant thought for a moment and said, “Well, what were the people like where you came from?” The traveler answered, “They were a bunch of small-minded, provincial, nosy bores.” The attendant said, “Well, they’re pretty much the same way here.” The driver snorted and drove on. A little while later, another car pulled up; the driver asked the same question and got the same question in return. This time the answer was, “Oh, they were great people, generous and hard-working! I hated to leave.” The

attendant said, once again, “That’s what they’re like here, too.” Two sets

of expectations, two different outcomes.

You see, what we are able to see depends as much on what’s inside of us as on what’s outside of us. And a lot of people think that the difference in experience - which is unquestionable - reflects a difference in the underlying reality. That’s at the bottom of a lot of the contemporary insistence on the notion that there is no such thing as objective truth, and the corresponding idea that we create our own reality. But the fact of the matter is that there IS an underlying reality, and

the most real thing that there is in the universe is God. That is what God meant when he gave Moses his name, “I AM THAT I AM.” God is what is. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be... God is the only reality in the universe that is not dependent on anything. Everything else is dependent on God. The entire creation, including ourselves, are dependent on God.

But we can’t see it if our hearts aren’t pure. We can’t see ourselves, and we can’t see God, if our hearts aren’t pure. And most people can’t even see that they’re missing something. They may have a hunger for spiritual things, they may even believe that they are deeply spiritual - and yet without two things - the corrective lenses and the clean heart - the God who is, is still beyond their comprehension.

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