Subway Prophet

…and the words of the prophets were written on the subway walls…

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Paul Newman famously declared, as Butch Cassidy, that “I have vision and the rest of the world has bifocals.” I have always loved this quote because of its confident arrogance which just puffs out its chest and declares, ‘Here I am world, and I am awesome.’ But that is not the purpose of this posting, or at least not really. The idea of vision and sight are important parts of the language of Christianity. Think of all the times Jesus heals the blind, or of Zechariah’s blindness until the birth of Christ to name a few. With all of these stories there seems to be a play on images with people’s physical vision being linked to their spiritual perception. Now it is true that Christianity does not have a monopoly on vision metaphors. Greek and Roman mythology includes a similar connection in the figure of Tiresias the blind prophet who give Oedipus his bad news. So, I want to grow on the Christian vision metaphor a bit.

The story is told in my family of my aunt’s first time getting glasses. She walked out of the office with her lenses and when she put them on in the car exclaimed, “Oh my! the tree’s have leaves on them!” I thought about this story today when I got my own pair of glasses for the first time. I put them on and much to my surprise nothing was particularly different. So, I took the off and replaced them on my face. This time, I realized that everything was a little different. The world I had existed in was a little fuzzy, however, with my glasses everything sharpened up and was clear. I discovered that I no longer needed to get as close to the computer as I had, or that I could see a little further without straining my eyes. It soon became a game to take on and off my glasses and admire my new vision. I think that one can draw a comparison to the experience one has of coming to realize the full love of Jesus Christ for the first time. I love talking with people for whom Jesus is a new friend they have just met. I have been a “Christian” all of my life, so their newly ignited passion inspires me every time. There is an immediacy to everything they do. They are overflowing with excitement and just cannot help but proclaim the Good News they have just heard. Sometimes I used to chuckle to myself at them and say, “Wait until they realize that the world is not as excited about Jesus as they are.” While this is true, it is a sign of the cynicism which runs deep in those of us for whom Jesus can be all too much like the piece of art on the wall which was once admired and is now just passed by. In this way, Jesus is sort of like a pair of glasses. For some people, Christ’s love opens up to them an entirely new world full of grace and beauty which, like my aunt, they had otherwise been missing. However, for others, including myself, new converts serve to remind me of the Christ I worship and the grace which I have received, and in that way, clarify my otherwise mediocre vision and restore me to the view I once had of a world filled with grace and opportunity to share the Gospel way of thinking to those in need of its Hope and Redemption.

While I don’t think I will wear my glasses all the time, it is difficult to go back to seeing the world without the correction. In contrast what once seemed normal and perfect, now seems dull and fuzzy. After having put on these lenses I can never return to the assumption I had lived with that the world was as I saw it. Now I know that with a little help, thanks to the genius of my doctor, I can see the world as it was meant to be seen. Perhaps you know someone who could use an eye exam? Or perhaps you can feel that things are not they way they should be and that a better way of seeing is possible. Try out the Doctor and let Him examine you and fit you for your own custom pair of glasses so that you can see for yourself.