by Lynn Buzzard
- "Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house." Ezekiel 12:2
- "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." I Cor. 2:14
As my wife and I wandered in the tourist store at the New Mexico Indian ruins, a man, noting my looking over the range of books, asked, “Have you read any of Tony Hillerman’s books?” “No,” I replied, “I’ve never even heard of him.” The man enthusiastically told me how fascinating Hillerman’s novels were, how they mingled ancient Anasazi customs with modern detective work – and I ought to try one. He was a good advocate, so I bought one – liked it – have now bought them all.
The curious thing that followed in subsequent months was that I saw Hillerman’s novels for sale everywhere. I saw newspaper articles about them, promotional ads – Hillerman was everywhere.
Did all these advertisers and book stores just begin to push these novels now that I had discovered them? Had I stumbled on him just at the moment of his beginning fame? Certainly not! In fact, the books had surely always been there. Then why hadn’t I seen them for all these years? The images from the book covers conveyed the information to the retinas of my eyes, but for some reason it didn’t register.
The reason was simply that I wasn’t “tuned in” at all. I saw, but didn’t have eyes to see. What we see is shaped by what we are “ready” to see, what our minds and consciousness are prepared to appreciate.
The scriptures make clear this same principle in the spiritual world. Our ability to perceive spiritual things depends on our readiness, our capacity. For those who have not the Spirit, the natural man, there is no “sight” of things that are plainly there. Only the spiritual man perceives spiritual things.
The phrase, “They just don’t get it,” has become part of our popular jargon. It suggests that, in spite of explanations, rational clarity, clear evidence, somehow, someone “just doesn’t get it.” It doesn’t register. People have different ways of perceiving things – and how difficult it is to help someone “see” something that they simply are not equipped to see.
The implications of this truth are at many levels. First, this reality may help us understand why what seems so clear to those with “eyes to see” is totally missed by the “world.” When someone without spiritual life tells you they don’t understand what we are saying, what we believe, or the way we look at things, then they are telling the truth. They “don’t get it.” They can’t appreciate spiritual things any more than a person who has no sight could understand the colors of a fall forest or a deaf person could appreciate Handel’s Messiah.
Second, it suggests that our own capacity to see spiritual things must arise not from the analytical skills of lawyer training, or the wisdom of deductive logic, or even from our own vast experience – but only as the Holy Spirit opens our eyes, reveals the truth, lifts the veil.
How often we have heard the expression, “think like a lawyer.” It too expresses the notion that there is a way of seeing things. A lawyer develops habits of perception, ways of thinking. Quite frankly, it may serve us well in certain aspects of law, but it does not serve us so well in relationships, and I think almost not at all in spiritual things.
We too often are blind to a world of spiritual reality – it is there screaming at us, but we miss it so easily. Recall the counsel of John the Baptist, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” I understand that to suggest if we don’t “repent” (literally, get a new mind), we will miss the kingdom, which is “at hand.” It will come and go, and we will never have even noticed it. How many persons did Jesus pass by in His earthly life and they never knew it? How much of what God is doing, and inviting us to be a part of, do we miss because we have no spiritual vision?
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This article [slightly edited] comes from CLS' sister-international ministry's, Advocate's International, devotional for lawyers titled, “What Does the Lord Require of You?” Lynn Buzzard is a former professor at Campbell Law School and the former executive director of Christian Legal Society.