Hey Bub! Whaddya Looking At?
Jesus talks about our eyes filling us with light or darkness (Luke 11:34-36) depending on their condition (diseased or healthy) and what captivates their attention (God or mammon Matt. 6:22-24). Furthermore, in the parallel passages of Matt. 5:14-15 and 6:22-23 a connection between being the ‘light of the world’ and being ‘filled with light’ can be made. These verses make the case that what we seek and what we look at express the condition of our spiritual lives and our effectiveness as witnesses to the Truth; i.e. whether we are filled with light or not.
Consider the saying “something caught my eye the other day”. This usually means that we weren’t looking at anything in particular and then suddenly focused on something specific. What that ‘something’ is reveals our alertness to, and interest in, certain things around us; i.e. what our eyes have been trained to ‘see’, desire to see and, depending on our eyesight, whether we see them clearly. Taking into account technological advances in the media (TV, radio, internet), I don’t think there has been a time in human history when idolatrous images with the sole purpose of ‘catching our eye’ and filling us with darkness are as ubiquitous as now. What’s more, the intensity of the imagery designed to ‘catch our eye’ is increasing and wearing us down to give into the most base and sinful compulsions of which we are capable; all things sexual is an example.
Popular TV shows and movies considered ‘innocent’ fun and ‘fantasy’ are really encouragements to engage in lifestyles contrary to the kingdom of heaven. And judging by the moral decay in the ‘real world’ these encouragements are wildly successful. Making matters worse, people are bombarded by the idolatrous images of money, power, influence, respect, security, notoriety, praise etc., especially through commercials, giving the impression they are the only worthwhile things to have. Of course, getting these things entails removing any competition which, in turn, contributes to further moral decay in the form of poverty and human degradation.
Even the Christians we read about in Paul’s letters were surrounded by idolatrous statues, carvings on buildings and, in a few places, even temple prostitutes parading around in plain sight; they got an ‘eyeful’ every day through their versions of the media. And things haven’t changed much since. There are now atheist congregations worshiping naturalism, empiricism, rationalism and moral relativism. They are 21st century versions of 1st century temples of idolatry and accepted by society with nary a blink of an eye, welcomed, in fact, by those calling themselves progressive and inclusive.
The point is that for this generation, like those before it, the battle lines between heaven and the world, between God and mammon, between light and darkness are clear to those who can really ‘see’. So what should we be looking at and what sort of things should we be seeking after that fill us with light? What follows is a series of blogs highlighting verses that teach us what to look at and what to seek so we might be “filled with light” thereby effectively resisting the darkness gripping our culture, our world and, sometimes, even ourselves.
© W. G. Ryzek 2013