“Seeing the World in 3D ”
Recently I was listening to a tape of a lesson taught by S. Lewis Johnson, Jr. around 1970. The lesson was on the topic of the doctrine of illumination and the related concept of the natural man not understanding the things of God but once we are regenerated we have the ability to understand Spiritual things in a way the natural man cannot.
Of course, living in a world of natural men, men who often deride those who have faith and accuse us of ignorance or even stupidity, I began to think about what it means to see things that the blind cannot see. After all, these natural men have the same ability to read the Bible as I do. In some cases, they may well know the Bible better than any of us. Have any of us not seen the “documentaries” shown on the Discovery Channel or the History Channel pretending to “discover” the “historical Jesus”? Have we not seen these video interviews of clerics and seminary professors explaining away miracles or dismissing Christ’s divinity or discussing some Q or other theory of how the Gospels were written?
These men after all have read the Bible, may even know Greek, etc. How is it that we believe we see things they do not or that it speaks to us in a way it does not to them? Would these men ever admit they were blind? Could we convince them they were blind?
This reminds me of something I learned in college. Apparently, each of us needs two eyeballs in order to have depth perception. Test yourself right now. Cover one of your eyeballs right now and look around the room you are in with that eye closed. Then quickly remove your hand, opening both eyes and instruct your brain to quickly notice the difference. When your second eye opens your brain will believe it’s taking a kind of slight movement backwards and you’ll perceive the room in a 3D way that you did not with one eye. (If this doesn’t work at all for you go see an ophthalmologist)
OK, you say, that’s an interesting analogy, but so what.
Well, here’s the real analogy. When I was in college my sophomore year I had a roommate who had only one eye since he was a toddler. Poor soul had cancer as a baby and in the early sixties all they could do is cut everything out. Where the rest of us have an eyeball, socket and upper and lower lids, my poor roommate only had sort of a pit. He covered the pit with an eye patch and went about his life in such a manner as though he was perfectly normal. In fact, he was very well adjusted, quite popular, a good student, athlete and was even elected dormitory president!
Well, not surprisingly, I couldn’t help but share with him my new knowledge that it takes two eyeballs to perceive depth. And you know what? My roommate refused to believe me! No really, he didn’t just say he doubted it. We actually got into a big argument. He’d lived his entire life without depth perception and didn’t have the slightest clue he’d ever missed out on anything! His whole life was like a non-3d movie when all the rest of the world was watching in 3d! But he was adamant. He made logical arguments. He explained that he was a receiver on his high school football team…how could he have been without depth perception? He explained how well he played Frisbee. Try playing Frisbee without depth perception he convincingly argued.
Well, though I had science on my side, there was just no convincing him. His mind was so adapted to a world without 3d that it allowed him to make innumerable judgments based on the relative size of objects and the directions they were going to make adjustments that allowed him to catch footballs and Frisbees, all without true depth perception.
For him, all was completely normal and acceptable and completely satisfactory. Although I could see the difference merely by covering an eye, it was completely impossible to convince him of the truth. I saw something he did not see. I saw it when exposed to the same reality he was exposed to. He not only did not see it but also refused to believe he could not see it. His sight was truly impaired but he refused to believe it was anything less than my own.
I think that’s how it is before we are born again. Prior to that we don’t understand the Spiritual things, but like those clerics on the Discovery Channel, we’re capable of reading the Bible, knowing the history, etc. but still not see that third dimension. Further, there’s no real way a natural man can be convinced that he doesn’t see, that he’s blind. For my friend, only with a second eyeball, that is with corrected sight, can he ever come to understand what he is really missing. Likewise, only when we are born again and receive that new nature and the Holy Spirit, then seeing clearly for the first time, can we look backwards and realize just how unknowingly blind we had been.
So try it again. Cover an eye, then uncover it. You’ll see how you can see the same reality around you in two distinctly different ways. One has a dimension of perception that the other lacks.