I discovered my need for glasses in college. Friends would say “hi” to me and I would just squint at them, trying to figure out who they were and if they were talking to me. They’d often tease me for being aloof, but I wasn’t trying to be. I was just trying to identify them. Before I finally got glasses, I got into the habit of recognizing how people tended to dress and how they walked so I had a better chance of recognizing them from a distance. I had about a 60% success rate with that. It improved a lot when I finally got my glasses. Without them, most people who aren’t just a few feet away from me look like Big Foot photos. I found out from my eye doctor that I had a condition called myopia, near-sightedness. Glasses correct the problem and when I drive, I must wear them.
In 2 Peter 1:9, Peter describes spiritual myopia:
“But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”
The scary thing about this verse is that Peter is not addressing unbelievers. He’s speaking to believers. If we are not careful to cultivate our relationship with the Lord, we are in danger of becoming more than just myopic, we can become spiritually blind. When the apostle writes “these things,” he is referring back to the seven character traits of the Christian life. If those things are lacking or diminishing in our lives, we’re forgetting the basics of our walk. Peter says Christians who are not developing those traits in their lives are “blind.” The word he uses means a “dulling of the intellect.” The next phrase “cannot see afar off” is the Greek word muōpazōn. It describes someone who has “indistinct vision” and who has to squint to try to see things like a near-sighted person does.
The primary cause for spiritual myopia? Forgetting where we came from. Peter says that someone who is suffering from this spiritual condition “[has] forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” When we forget what God has saved us from, we lose sight of what God is saving us to. A Christian who has forgotten what God saved him from becomes unthankful for what God has done for him. That makes him unfruitful and eventually makes him unfaithful. He cannot see the reason for living the Christian life and he cannot appreciate the blessings he has in the Lord. He might still come to church, sing all the hymns and even say, “amen” at the right points in the sermon, but if he is not actively pursuing his relationship with the Lord, he’ll begin to lose sight of Him. God and the things of God will get out of focus and it will be like he has to squint at them to see them. You may know some believers like this. They’ve been saved a lot of years, but their lives show a marked lack of growth. They have no vision for the lost and no desire for service. Church is something they do, but it lacks any real value for them because they cannot appreciate its value. They don’t have the eyes to see it. Then there are those who have caught the vision, so to speak. They see the big spiritual picture. They can see the city of God afar off, that place called Heaven and their lives reflect it. They are always serving and they have a constant burden for the lost, a desire for others to see the Lord as they do.
What’s the difference between the two? Spiritual diet. Those with the vision never forget what God rescued them from and are hungry for more of God and His Word. They have a constant appetite for the things of God and the more they partake of His Word, the more their vision grows. For physical myopia the fix is corrective lenses, or contacts, or maybe laser surgery but those are just fixes. For spiritual myopia there is a cure and that cure is getting back to God. There are plenty of examples in the gospels where Jesus healed physical blindness, but His greatest miracle in the realm of vision is His ability to heal spiritual blindness. That enlightens the soul.