As I sat in the chair in the examination room of the ophthalmologist’s office, I received a diagnosis that made official what I already knew – “You have a cataract, and it needs to be removed.”
In the past year, it’s become more and more “clear” that there was a fog-like substance, or “glaze,” growing on the lens of my eye. Trying to see out of that eye was like looking through a fogged-up window that I couldn’t wipe off. I couldn’t focus on anything when I looked out of that eye – nothing was clear.
It wasn’t long after that I realized cataracts have a spiritual application, too. After he recounted the “Hall of Faith” in chapter 11, the writer of Hebrews exhorts Christians, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2). We can only fix our eyes on Jesus if we have clear vision, and not cloudy vision. If we can’t “see” Jesus, and keep our focus on Him, we won’t be able to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us” or “run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
We can develop spiritual cataracts in quite a few ways, but ultimately they come from the same source – neglect of the spiritual disciplines God has given us that we might grow and mature in Him. When we stop reading and studying God’s Word; when the only time we pray is to get a good parking spot; when we neglect fellowship and attendance at church; when we don’t truly worship from the heart; when we aren’t good stewards of the gifts God gives us; when we don’t evangelize; when we stop serving and ministering to others; when we see obedience to the Lord as an option and not an obligation; and when we stop learning, we can be sure cataracts will develop that will cloud our vision of the author and perfecter of faith, Jesus Christ. They may come quickly or slowly, but the cataracts will certainly develop.
Cataracts, at least of the spiritual nature, can be avoided, therefore, by the regular and consistent practice of all of the spiritual disciplines. Only then will we be able to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus with vision that is clear and bright.