That’s the problem with blind spots. They’re awfully hard to see. You have to twist your head around uncomfortably to check whether you’re on a collision course with another vehicle, a pedestrian or an obstruction. But what about when we’re not driving?
So many of us are oblivious to how messy and noisy we are when we eat. Or how grating or obnoxiously loud our voices are when we’re “WHAT’S THE MATTER, I’M JUST HAVING A NORMAL CONVERSATION”. We talk endlessly about ourselves and never ask about anyone else’s life and struggles. Or we blithely throw around bigoted opinions and use language that causes deep hurt. And heaven help the person who dares to ask that we moderate how we express ourselves.
Do you have biblical blind spots? Is there clear Bible teaching you simply cannot see, or would rather not? The weird thing is that other people’s blind spots often stand out like billboards. Many evangelicals persist in believing in a secret rapture, even though 2 Peter 3:10 makes it clear that Jesus’ second coming will not be a quiet event: “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire . . .” Catholic and Orthodox believers hold that Mary, Jesus’ mother, was (and still is) a perpetual virgin, even though Matthew 1:25 says that Joseph “. . . did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son . . .” Which she did. Which means they did. And so she wasn’t.
At this point it’s tempting to saddle my heretical hobby horse and chase a few Adventist sacred cows around the paddock. For example, is our prohibitionist stance on alcohol biblically justifiable? Is tithing a genuinely New Testament teaching? Don’t get me started on ordination!
But who would that help? Adventists continue to avoid the scourge of alcohol for good reason and return a faithful 10 per cent of their income for use in the important ministry and mission of the Church.
No, our most critical blind spots are much closer to the heart. Sadly, it’s often basic biblical doctrines we ignore, while holding fast to denominational identifiers. Do any of these verses shine a light on your blind spot?
• “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14). Holding onto hurt is a human thing to do. But it’s also self-destructive and failing to forgive endangers our connection with God, even our salvation.
• “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving” (Ephesians 5:4). It’s easy to get carried away when we’re hanging out with our friends—we start by having good, clean fun, but one joke leads to another and everyone’s laughing . . . except the grieving Spirit of God, who is witnessing our descent into the gutter.
". . . our most critical blind spots are much closer to the heart . . ."
• “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9). So much of our culture is built on the premise of chasing wealth and its accoutrements—seeking promotions, holidays, car loans, renovations and real estate speculation. Meanwhile, the Bible’s pleas for generosity to the poor and justice for the oppressed go unheard.
• “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). In our visual, oversexed media landscape, lust is normalised. But Jesus reminds us that the abuses called out by #MeToo have their roots in where we allow our eyes and minds to wander.
• “I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder”
(2 Corinthians 12:20). Does this describe your congregation? Is there discord or gossip? Jealousy? Arrogance? Before your church can positively impact the community, some blind spots need to be addressed—repentance and reconciliation need to take place.
If you’re certain you have no blind spots, let’s remember Jesus’ warning to those clear-eyed Pharisees: “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” (John 9:41). It’s safer to admit that we probably do have blind spots, even if we can’t see them right now, and to make the Jericho beggar’s prayer our own: “Lord, I want to see” (Luke 18:41).