And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” (John 9:39-41)
As I was thinking about what to write for the blog this week an article in Christianity Today arrived at my computer titled, “The Blind Spot of the Spiritual Formation Movement”.A couple of days after reading this Joy and I met a graduate of the trucking school we are attending. He graduated about six months ago and is working for a large firm and is very happy in his new life. He stopped by the school to visit the instructors and was in a brand new company truck and on the passenger side was a large (perhaps 2’ x 2’) yellow sign which said in bold black letters, “Warning: You Are In my Blind Spot.” Blind spots are very important to be aware of. Some tractor trailers have similar decals on the back of the trailer which show the areas which are “No Zones”. These are areas around the truck where the driver cannot see if anything is there. They are serious blind spots. As truckers are moving along they are constantly checking their side mirrors to be aware of what is coming up on either side from behind and when it disappears they can assume where it might be but don’t really know for sure. The instructors at the driving school probably spent more time on this area than they did on most other areas of driving. They have all been driving for more than 25 years each and they repeatedly stress that the reason they do this is because most new trick drivers do not realize the extent of the blind spots and most drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians not only do not realize the extent of blind spots around the truck and often put themselves in danger by not paying attention. For some getting around the truck or through the intersection is their blind spot.
For example, I was practicing for my upcoming road test and waiting at an intersection for the light to turn green where I would be making a right hand turn. About 30 feet to my right was a bicycle path which runs parallel to the road I was on. While waiting for the light I continually looked at the mirrors on both sides of the truck. The light turned green, the cross walk signal was red, indicating that pedestrians and bicyclists must stop, I began my turn which means I no longer had a view of the bicycle path that way and suddenly a bicyclist traveling at a fairly high speed shot across the road oblivious to his traffic sign or the very large truck I was driving which came within a few feet of making him one with the pavement. His blind spot was the result of his zeal to get across the intersection which blinded him to all of the dangers around him.
Since we are flawed humans our spiritual lives have spiritual blind spots and they are different for different people. These blind spots are often connected to pride or for some the belief that we should not struggle against sinful desires. Last week it was revealed that Ray Boltz is homosexual and decided to make it publicly known. Why has he concluded that this behavior is okay? Because God didn’t take away the desires he has been fighting against and so he persuaded himself that acting on his impulses must be okay with God. This enables him to believe he is not a sinner in this area at least.
The Jews in John 9 had persuaded themselves that they were not sinners in the way other people were. They thought of themselves as accepted by God and that whatever “problems” they may have had those would be overlooked in comparison with others.
The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.'” (Luke 18:11-12)
The Pharisee clearly had a blind spot and it was a really big blind spot. This may have been one of the individuals which Jesus addressed in John 9. Because he was so blind to who he was in comparison to Christ’s righteousness he was in grave danger due to his pride. The tax collector in Luke 18:13 was well aware of his plight:
But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
Blind spots are dangerous and if we are not aware of them we can put ourselves and others in grave peril.
… fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. (1 Timothy 1:18c – 19)
Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Timothy 1:20) are examples of lives destroyed with the potential of destroying others. False teachers careen through churches often times unchecked and reeking havoc. Immature and under discipled believers are put in places of prominence and leadership because they are successful business types. The result is allowing, endorsing and even promoting false teaching and bad behavior within local churches. Well placed ads in Evangelical periodicals promoting Eastern metaphysics replace well practiced biblical teaching in Evangelical churches.
Being aware that we have blind spots is a step in the right direction. We can make provisions which will safe guard us and others. Accountability is probably the primary safeguard. Those around us can most often well see our problem areas which can lead to harm. They can warn us that we need course corrections if we begin straying in one direction or another. They can alert us to dangers that are ahead, behind or to one side or the other. The recognition and admission that we need such accountability strikes a blow against pride for we cannot live the spiritual life on our own. What informs us about our blind spots is the word of God proclaimed on a regular basis. Craig Brian Larson’s article “The Blind Spot of the Spiritual Formation Movement” hits the nail on the head when he writes:
That’s why as much as I respect those who have written on spiritual formation, I one day came to the realization that they have a blind spot: their view of preaching.
Read books on spiritual formation and you will be hard-pressed to find listening to the preaching of God’s Word mentioned as a first-order spiritual discipline in its own right.
He lays out “… nine characteristics that separate sound, biblical preaching from Bible reading, memorization, and meditation:”
Larson is correct. This is a blind spot and it is a giant one at that and a spiritual disipline which ultimately guides and informs all other spiritual disiplines as well as out behavior.