By Zach Simons
Do these scenarios sound familiar?
- A pastor or leader gives a stirring message on repentance and the need to open ones eyes to the pitfalls of personal sin. You are moved internally and nod in agreement, thinking “So-and-so really needs to hear this message!”
- Your spouse comes home from work and comments on the cleanliness of house, or lack-there-of. You immediately respond with a comment about how that might be different if they had spent the weekend doing something aside from watching television.
- Your boss is concerned about the lack of progress your project team seems to be making, and the aggravating thoughts that arise within you are all in connection with the poor work ethic of your partner.
If you are like me, these type of scenarios play out on almost a daily basis. The truth that they emphasize is that we are predisposed to have a heightened awareness to the sin of others, and a blindness to our own. It’s much easier to point out the sin in others than it is to do the hard work of identifying the blind spots we have in our own lives. Collin Hansen says it this way,
“We all have blind spots. It’s so easy to see the fault in someone else or in another group but so difficult to see the limitations in ourselves. Unless you learn to see the faults in yourself and your heroes, though, you can’t appreciate how God has gifted other Christians. Only then can you understand that Jesus died for this body, which only accepts the sick. Only then can we together meet the challenges of our rapidly changing age.”
According to Hansen, an unwillingness to look at the sin that the Holy Spirit may be trying to point out in our own lives hinders the work of the gospel. When I read this earlier this week, I was convicted about the blinders that I so willingly wear and was struck by the negative impact they have on the church and community around me. But I was also struck by something else. Notice how he describes the church - as a living body, with multiple giftings, that is meant to further the mission of Jesus together. That’s some serious communal language, and there is a reason he uses it in connection with blind spots.
The fact that Jesus died for the church as a whole often goes unappreciated. I can tend to think of Jesus' salvific work on the cross as a matter between me and him; an arrangement between the two of us that deals with my sin. While it’s true that Jesus dealt with my sin on the cross (and this truth has been the source of many sweet moments of worship and thankfulness), it would be incomplete to stop there. Christ died for a people. He justified us as his people, and sanctifies us as his people. That means that true change in our life often comes through other sons and daughters of God as his instruments of change.
Living in community means that things eventually are drawn to the surface. It’s harder to keep our spiritual blinders on when we live in close proximity. Eventually our sin will be placed on the table. And that can be a fearful thing. But we must not let our fear of seeing our own sin keep separate what God has put together. God has joined his children together in this church and wants to illumine our blind spots so we can see our differences not as a source for pride, but as an opportunity to grow and become more like Jesus.
This takes courage and a willingness to admit that we are the sick souls for which the church was created. We don’t have it all together, and we certainly aren’t always in the right. But when we lovingly address the blind spots in one another, and are willing to see them in ourselves, it yields a humility, a sense of acceptance, and a growth in character that makes the church attractive to a watching world.
I am thankful for Christ’s church and how much I’ve been blessed by all of you. Praying for you as we head into 2017 that we’d continue to embody what God calls us in Ephesians 4:16 - a united body that, “joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”