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Vol.  9  No. 8 August 2007  Page 5
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Raymond ElliottI Can See Much Clearer Now

By Raymond Elliott

    Recently, I had cataract surgery on both eyes. The doctor removed the cataract from my right eye first. There was a week interval before he removed the cataract on my left eye. During this time I began to observe that things like the wallpaper in the bathroom were not as dark as I thought previously. One day I received a flyer announcing a Gospel meeting. The vision in my right eye showed me that the paper was blue; however according to the vision in my left eye, the flyer was a dirty looking light green. Or you might say a coffee stained shade of green. It was then that I asked my wife what color was the paper, and she replied that it was indeed blue. It was then that I realized that over a period of time my vision had been discolored without my realizing that I was not seeing things as they really were.

    Another example of how that I was not seeing things as they really were was when I looked at the address of some friends and saw the opposite of their true address. Ironically, I thought their address was on Summer Street when actually my friends lived on Winter Place. You see, I had already made up my mind that these Christian friends lived on Summer Street so when I looked up their address in the church directory I read Summer Street instead of Winter Place. I don’t usually do that, but this time I really had a preconceived idea as to where this family lived. Of course, I was wrong. When I realized that they did not live where I was looking, I went to another friend’s home who lived in the area and obtained the proper address of the family I wanted to visit.

    To some degree, all of us have had preconceived ideas about various matters. I suppose that it could be said to deny this would be evidence that we have already made up our minds that we have never been prejudiced concerning anyone or anything. It is especially difficult to be intellectually honest in dealing with the Word of God. A person can be one of integrity regarding his/her financial obligations, fidelity in the marriage relationship, in work ethics, etc. and yet not have an open and receptive mind when it comes to the study of the Holy Scriptures. If we are not careful, most of us have gone to the Bible to prove what we believe instead of going to the Bible to learn what God desires for us to know and to do. Perhaps the discoloration has been there so long that we see things that are shaded rather than viewing them with clear vision.

    It is a real challenge for a person to study the Bible through glasses that are clear rather than being tinted blue, green or red. The discoloration of our vision may have been influenced by our parents, our Bible class teachers, preachers or our friends. The books and periodicals that we read, the television programs we watch and other medias influence us in biblical matters whether we realize it or not. Of course, not all the influence exerted upon our thinking is to be construed as being negative regarding biblical subjects. But prejudice has prevented many people from understanding and accepting God’s eternal truths.

    Webster defines prejudice as “a judgment or opinion formed before the facts are known; preconceived idea, favorable or, more usually, unfavorable 2.a) a judgment or opinion held in disregard of facts that contradict it; unreasonable bias.” Nathanael had formed a prejudicial opinion of Jesus before he met him. He asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth” (John 1:46)? Someone had influenced him to be biased toward people who lived in Nazareth. Aren’t we happy that Jesus performed ‘surgery’ on his eyes that he could see more clearly that Jesus was indeed “the Son of God” and the “King of Israel” (John 1:51).

    A preacher friend of mine related to me in recent times his conversation with a gentleman regarding how Jesus saves people today. The discussion involved the purpose and action of water baptism. My friend referred the man to 1 Peter 3:21 and had him to read aloud this verse. He read it as follows from the King James Version, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth not save us.” He requested the individual to read the verse again. And he did, “The like figure whereunto baptism doth not save us.” My friend knew at this time he had a real problem. He thought for a while as what to do and then he asked the man to read the verse one word at a time. The gentleman responded by complying with the request of my friend. When he got to where he had inserted the word ‘not’ he saw that the passage read “baptism doth also save us.” He stopped and became embarrassed. Prejudice had prevented him from seeing clearly what the verse truly taught. This isn’t to necessarily indict the person as being dishonest; rather it is most likely that his vision had been shaded over the years by the influence of those who do not accept the scriptural teaching on the subject of baptism.

    I am reminded of the time when a fellow Gospel preacher and I were studying with a family in their home during a campaign that was being conducted in another state. This group believed in immersion but for the wrong reason. So it came down to why a person should be baptized. The gentleman said that he could quote a verse that explained how to be saved and that was Acts 2:38. I was surprised by his statement and asked him to quote the verse. He began, “And Peter told them to repent and believe.” I knew then he had his mind made up as to what this passage taught so I turned to the verse and read it.

    There have been in every generation individuals who have fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 6:9, “Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them” (Matthew 13:14, 15). Prejudice is not peculiar to any particular people; rather, such an attitude has even permeated the body of Christ. We often permit our opinions to shade our understanding of the teaching of the Bible. None of us possesses all the truth. How wonderful that we can continue to learn and have a greater understanding of the Word of God. After all, we are exhorted to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

    It is not a disgrace to change when we learn better. This is not a reflection on objective truths found in the Scriptures, but rather upon our obtaining a greater understanding of the same. It is doubtful that any of us achieved a complete knowledge of the teaching of God while we were “newborn babes” in Christ. The apostle Peter exhorts us “to desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). Whenever the Hebrew writer mentioned that “solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14), he necessarily implied that babes in Christ neither know nor comprehend as much as the members who are more mature in Jesus Christ. For a person to assert that he/she has never changed his/her mind on any issue may in fact denote a biased attitude toward learning new and/or additional truths. It is truly difficult to keep an open mind while discussing religious issues. Someone has said, “My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with the facts.”

    We should all stand firmly upon the foundation of truth, which is the Word of God. However, we should never permit a discoloration of our eyes to prejudice us against learning the way of the Lord more perfectly where there is a need to do so. Remember the prayer to God by the prophet Isaiah when he prayed that the eyes of his servant might be opened to see what he otherwise had not been able to see with his natural eyes (Isaiah 6:17). It would be good if we all would ask God to help us to understand more fully his will for us to know and do. The Bereans who “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11) are worthy of our emulation.

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