That’s an excerpt from the scripture Matthew 6:22. Though in its context its speaking about not allowing darkness and perversion to fill our eyes, it does something else entirely.
It shows the importance of what we see and how it impacts us!
More so than what we hear, taste, etc. What we see has the capability to profoundly impact the way we think, believe, and ultimately behave. If all we see is depravity all around us, the likelihood of us becoming engulfed in it is extremely high. Our sight can affect what we think, our thoughts (what we dwell upon) can begin to change our character/beliefs and those beliefs can affect our behavior.
Now in the last article I discussed the impact of the election (and subsequent presidency) of Barack Obama had a significant impact on the psyche of black people in the diaspora (google it ). Now that is merely a microcosm to the greater paradigm, because what we were forced to confront was to change the way we interpreted leadership and authority, and its relationship to a man of color. In similar fashion peoples preconceived notions of beauty were challenged the first time there was a black Ms. America, and so on and so forth.
Now how does this relate to the life of a believer? Well I believe it is of great significance, for starters I believe once we realize that a lot of what we hold dear to isn’t necessarily scriptural, but cultural ideology. Now you may be thinking to yourself right now…AJ THERE IS NO WAY I PLACE MY CULTURAL IDEOLOGIES ON THE SAME LEVEL AS BIBLICAL TRUTH!
I would beg to differ that though not done intentionally, we all very much do.
Why do we wear suits to church? Why is it that when we pray we still speak in 17th century Elizabethan English? Speaking of the 17th century why is it that we still hold so strongly to the King James Version of the Bible? Why are certain types of music played in church? Why is gospel music not considered Christian and vice versa?
Now I could list a dozens more questions like this. And you could say yeah yeah ok, but what exactly are we supposed to do with all of it? Completely overhaul our entire cultural structure?
Well first I would say, we have to acknowledge it as a cultural structure. Not a necessarily biblical one. Now understand God has no gripe with culture unless it causes you to sin and turn from Him. When that happens that cultural norm must be put away. But in general God works through our culture, and the various ideology.
But here’s the problem – We have transformed from just being biblical apologists to now becoming cultural apologists. We must allow our cultural ideologies to be challenged and possibly proved wrong and godless. And when that is the case then they need to be put away.
“So whoever knows what is good to do and does not do it is guilty of sin.” – That’s verse 17 from the book of James chapter 4.
That means as I walk the journey and mature, I become cognizant of more and more things I do that are just plain wrong.
Just like when I was a child I just shoveled food into my mouth, but now I use utensils. Both methods accomplished the same goal, food – to – mouth, but one was more refined.
Well similarly when we don’t know any better, we all have been guilty of being biased toward someone (or ones) as a result of a cultural ideology. Once we become aware of that, what are we supposed to do? Ignore it and hope we forget? Or they forget? Or become proactive and ask God to help us change. Again the change in our actions won’t come until the thoughts change, and that won’t come until how we see things change. That means the places I’m looking may have to change, the people I’m looking at may have to change, I may need help on how to interpret some of the things I see.
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways.” – That’s I Corinthians 13:11
The context of that verse is how we are to show love to others. Well I’d like to submit for your consideration that it’s impossible to truly love others until I change the way I view them.
Many times the answers will not lie within ourselves, because we all are tainted. We all have a skewed perspective. So we have to challenge our view at times.
“For we know in part, and we [profess] in part…” – I Corinthians 13:9
We only have parts and pieces. Why would we believe others would not have anything to offer? If a particular ideology I’ve been raised to believe tells me so.
So I’d like you ask yourself some more of those hard questions:
Why do I believe God is a conservative?
Why does it matter if Jesus was black?
Why do we act a particular way in a certain type of building?
Explain how the US is a Christian nation.
Can I be a christian who wears turban, hijab, dashiki, war paint, etc?
And if you find the answer isn’t necessarily biblical then I would ask that you at least allow that belief to be challenged. I know change can be scary, because it’s the unknown.
But if we follow a God who is omniscient, then we should rely on Him to be the light before our eyes (see what I did there )
I’ll leave you with this thought: Alot of believers have the motto – Just preach the gospel.
I’d like to present you with the possibility that just merely preaching the gospel for anyone is impossible. We all express our faith through our specific cultural context. The language, the clothes, the music, even many of the values…those are not biblical in nature, they’re all part of our cultural identities.
How are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful is the arrival of those who proclaim the good news.” – Romans 10:14-15
People believe, hear, are sent, and preach in all the cultures on earth. Now I believe God takes all that into consideration before they are sent.
Now what would you think about this:
Any aspect of our culture that doesn’t contradict Christianity, can actually enhance it.
I believe God knows this and he wants to understand it the way He does.
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” – Rev 7:9-10