part 2

All of us have known someone who had "tunnel vision." By "tunnel vision" I mean a person who focused exclusively on one view, one concept so that is all he or she saw. That one concern became "the explanation" for everything that happened in the families, or in the country, or in the world.

If we would be honest with ourselves and others, it is likely that all of us suffer at times from "tunnel vision." You usually can detect "tunnel vision" by the questions asked. Very complex matters are reduced to single, simple declarations.

Let me give some examples of questions that warn us "tunnel vision" is just ahead. "Do you know what is wrong with American families? Let me tell you what is wrong with American families!" "Do you know what is wrong with our government? I can tell you what is wrong with our government!" "Do you know what is wrong with our economy? This is what is wrong with our economy!" "Do you know what is wrong with our world? Let me tell you what is wrong with our world!" "Do you know what is wrong with the church? I can tell you what is wrong with the church!"

Usually people who suffer from "tunnel vision" are quite sincere and very serious. Their concern may be a legitimate concern. The difficulty: their concern in a complex matter is just one problem of many problems.

Sometimes our study of the Bible is limited because of a type of "tunnel vision." We hear something so much, we are taught how to look at something so consistently, that we think only one thought when we hear a scripture or look at a subject. I am not talking about adding something that is not there. I am talking about seeing everything that is there.

  1. Let me give you a possible example of "tunnel vision" in the study of scripture.
    1. When I say Genesis 1 (the first chapter in the Bible), what do you think?
      1. Probably all of us think, "Creation," God's acts bring the world and life into existence.
      2. When I say "creation" what do you think?
        1. Do you think, "I sure would like to know the answers to questions arising from the clash between creation and evolution"?
        2. Do you think, "I sure would like to know where dinosaurs fit in"?
        3. Do you think, "That is the beginning of history"?
        4. Do you think, "That tells me how life began"?
        5. Do you think, "That is the beginning of the Bible story"?
        6. Just what is it that you focus on when you hear the word "creation"?
    2. Do you ever think that Genesis 1 holds the key to understanding the basic problem addressed in the entire Bible?
      1. Do you ever think that if you want to understand God's actions throughout the whole Bible, you need to begin by understanding a truth in Genesis l?
      2. First consider some statements from Genesis 1.
        Genesis 1:26,27 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
        1. The "us" in this statement is likely not a reference to the trinity, but use of language of a mighty king making a pronouncement, which was a common way that a Near Eastern king made pronouncements.
        2. God completed His creation by creating human beings, His most important creative act, the crown jewel of His creation, His touch of completion.
        3. He made them in the image and likeness of God.
        4. "Image" and "likeness" is about more than what we lost when we sinned.
        5. God's purpose for people was to reflect Himself.
        6. He placed some of His qualities in humans--they were creatures of choice who were capable of exercising independence; they were made to rule.
      3. Genesis 1:31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.
        1. Question: why was it very good?
        2. Answer: God's creation reflected God's goodness.
        3. The sovereign king could look at His creation and see something that reflected Who and What He was.
      4. Hundreds of years later, Paul wrote this about God's creation in Romans 8:18-22:
        For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
        1. Paul made this statement in his discussion of Christian suffering.
        2. This statement is based on some deep theology.
        3. However, there is one fact this is simple and evident: creation did not serve the role or fulfill the purpose God intended for it.
        4. That means we did not serve the role or fulfill the purpose God intended for us.
        5. What was that role, that purpose? To reflect God.
        6. Instead of reflecting God, we rejected God's sovereignty and reflected sin (evil).
        7. The crowning jewel, God's touch of completion, rejected God's sovereignty and reflected God's bitter enemy instead of reflecting God.

  2. Consider this illustration.
    1. God created, completed the creation with humans, looked at what He had made, and was deeply pleased--His good creation reflected His own goodness.
      1. I have no idea how much time passed from Genesis 1 to the rebellion in Genesis 3, but in this period God was perfectly at ease with humans, and humans were perfectly at ease with God.
      2. Genesis 3:8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
        1. The first time they were uncomfortable with and felt threatened by God's presence was after their rebellion, after their rejection of God's sovereignty.
        2. Why did they rebel? Why did they reject God's sovereignty?
      3. Genesis 3:1b-5 And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.' " The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
        1. "Has God ever told you a whopper!"
        2. "You won't die!"
        3. "He knows you will be like Him!"
        4. Note that when Eve examined the tree, among other things she saw that the tree was "desirable to make one wise" (Genesis 3:6).
    2. From the moment they rebelled against God and thereby rejected God's sovereignty until what you and I understand to be the final judgment, God has had a common objective: to reassert His sovereignty over a rebellious creation.
      1. God did not wish to destroy His creation, but to reclaim His creation.
      2. Sure He could have used His power to destroy and end the rebellion.
      3. But He wanted to give humanity opportunity to voluntarily accept His sovereignty and return to relationship with Him.
      4. That is why Christians exercise the choice to be part of God's kingdom.
    3. Perhaps your reaction is, "That is all very interesting but also a very unnecessary understanding."
      1. May I assure you that it is not an unnecessary understanding.
      2. May I assure you that this understanding is the very core of living for God.

  3. "David, why would you make a statement like that? Why would you dare suggest that restoring God's sovereignty is the core reason for being in God's kingdom?"
    1. The problem is reflected in these attitudes:
      1. "How can a person go to heaven and stay out of hell--barely?"
      2. "Please teach me how to live like I want to and not pay any consequences for it."
      3. "Show me where the Bible says that I will go to hell for watching pornography, or destroying somebody's marriage, or being aggressive in business (greed), or finding pleasure?"
      4. We even have our justifications:
        1. "God wants me to be happy."
        2. "X will make me happy."
        3. "God wants me to do this ungodly thing so I can be happy."
      5. The result of all such reasoning is that we look at the New Testament as a Christian's rule book.
        1. "If I keep the rules, God has to save me!"
        2. The trick is to get as close to the line without crossing it--so I want to know precisely where God draws it.
    2. This entire way of reasoning misses the point of Christian existence.
      1. The question is not [and never has been!], "How can I stay out of hell?"
      2. The question is [and always has been!], "How does this allow me to reflect God in who I am and the way I live."
    3. In fifty years, people have asked me a lot of questions and lectured me on a number of things.
      1. "Do you think I can marry this person and it be okay with God?"
      2. "Do you think God will just overlook my affair?"
      3. "Do you think it would be okay to take this if I promise God to give Him half of it?"
      4. "God would hate that person, too, if that person treated God like he/she treats me!"
      5. "I don't read anywhere in the Bible that says this is wrong!"
    4. We are giving ourselves the wrong answers and coming to the wrong conclusions because we do not ask the right question.
      1. God made us to reflect Him.
      2. When we live or act in ways that do not reflect God, we reject our created purpose.
      3. It is not about "keeping the right rules;" it is about reflecting God by accepting His sovereignty.

We have kept our focus fixed so tightly on commands that we often cannot see God. Its an old mistake. The nation of Israel made it frequently. The Pharisees made that mistake big time. If we are not careful, we will repeat the same mistake.

1 John 3:1-10 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

Is your life committed to reflecting God?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 18 April 2004

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