Originally published in the King’s Stanley Magazine.
This is the year that we should all be able to see clearly!
We speak about having 20/20 vision, but for many of us that is only achieved with the aid of glasses, spectacles or contact lenses. It might be that we are short-sighted, so that things in the distance are blurred or out of focus. Or we may discover as we grow older that our arms are no longer long enough and we cannot focus properly on things that are close to us.
Just as many of us who enjoy 20/20 vision only do so with some form of lens to help us, so we can extend this thought to how we see life.
Would it make sense to say that when it comes to how to live our lives, we are offered various “lenses” enabling us to “see” how to? At first these are offered by other people – parents, teachers etc. They instruct us, warn us, and tell us stories. They are first-hand “lenses.”
Then we learn to read and a world of second-hand “lenses” is opened up to us. In this comparison it is people first and books second.
Let’s try linking this idea to what we in the Christian church imagine we have to offer in 2020.
Suppose, for example, that we think we are offering the lens of faith. What is it that we think will become clearer? Here is one attempt at a very brief answer: that we are not alone, and that we are valued. This is also the challenge to those of us who worship regularly: to welcome anybody who joins us, to make visitors feel valued.
Is that all?
No, but it is a starting point, because most people who have faith in God start from their own experience of learning the basics from parents, friends and teachers, such as saying sorry, trusting others, realizing that the world doesn’t revolve around them, and that others matter as well. These skills can then become building blocks for a relationship with God. Mixed in with these basics is the story of Jesus, which first and foremost is a human story beginning in Bethlehem and ending in Jerusalem. Or, as Christians believe, beginning again on Easter Sunday.
Christians should be wary of claiming to have 20/20 vision when it comes to life, faith, God, and all the rest of it. A more realistic claim is that, if left to our own devices, our vision is imperfect, defective and limited, but we have accepted the “lenses” of faith and want to welcome others who wish to see more clearly.
As the prayer says, “Day by day, dear Lord, three things I pray: to see you more clearly, love you more dearly, follow you more nearly, day by day.”
Robert Draycott (Rev)