By: Nate Bramsen
Most likely we all heard as children, “If you cross your eyes, they’ll stick!”
Though this perception is false, the medical condition of being cross-eyed is called Strabismus. It occurs when the eyes are unable to focus on the same object and maintain proper alignment. While this is not a desired condition in the physical world, allow the suggestion that all Christians ought to be cross-eyed…in another realm.
When we look at the world with its political confusion, persistent chaos, and life’s painful chapters, it’s easy for our vision to suffer and lose the alignment Scripture teaches. When Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, he quickly told them, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (I Cor. 2:2 ESV)
The verse reminds us that Paul had decided “to know.” The word used is eido. This is not referring to mere intellectual logic. Instead it is a choice to discover by the senses, to perceive by the eyes, or to notice something. But look at the implications.
Referring to Christ and His work, Paul made the decision that all his relationships would be seen through the light of the cross. But what are the practical implications of such a choice?
First, the choice is made individually (“I decided…”). If you allow the media, your emotions, or the majority to be your deciding factor, you won’t come to the position of seeing individual souls as God sees them. Furthermore, there is an intentionality (“I decided to know…”). The daily perspective of seeing life and lives through the lens of the cross does not merely happen by chance. There is a conscientious choice. Have you ever determined to know something? This reminds us that there is an investment. Like any earthly discipline, Paul’s decision to see Christ and His cross in each life required the investment of time, focus, and energy. Accompanying this choice was the repercussion of choosing to be deemed ignorant in the eyes of the world. When you choose to see souls through “cross-eyes,” you are choosing to refuse to see souls through the logic and bias of this age. Where might you be forced to be deemed ignorant in order to see as our Saviour did? 2 Corinthians 4:18 reminds us, “As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (ESV)
Though the choice of having such a perspective is personal, there is an obvious interaction taking place (“among you…”). This is not a mere theological principle. Rather, it is highly practical and daily applied. Finally, when one decides “to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” there is an importance communicated. I love to highlight the books I read, but if I highlight every phrase, it brings a lack of importance to the highlighting. On the contrary, if I highlighted but one or two phrases, they would stand out as paramount. Many are known for their sports team, a certain hobby, their occupation, or perhaps a relationship in life but when one chooses “to know nothing among you except…” there is an importance clearly conveyed.
But how can we practically live as “cross-eyed” Christians? What is the lens through which a “cross-eyed” believer must view each life? Allow a suggestion. Picture the one you love the least, for in the one you love the least, your love for God most often is reflected. As you do, consider three truths that ought to resonate in our minds for every soul we see.
The first truth involves the details of God’s love. God made no mistake in making any human being. The Psalmist recounts, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14a ESV). When you were inside your mother, floating in amniotic fluid, God knit you together perfectly. My grandmother kindly knits for me the most amazing beanies. In watching her knit, I learned something. When she makes a mistake, she pulls out the yarn to the point where the error occurred, and resumes knitting from that spot. The end-result is a beanie with no loose strands or threads. If that is true of my eighty-plus year-old grandmother, imagine God’s precision. He is the Master Artist, Craftsman, and Designer — and in making you, He made no mistake. It is true that we are born in sin because of Adam’s choice. In addition, it is true that we are in desperate need of a Saviour. But it is also true that God did not err as He formed you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made and so are all the people you meet.
Secondly, consider the length of God’s love. King David exclaimed, “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Ps. 8:4 ESV) The Lord Jesus said, “God so loved the world” (Jn. 3:16). God loves people. Regardless of my thoughts toward someone, I can know what God thinks about them. In Jeremiah 31:3, God reminded His people, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Consider this: When did God start loving you or someone else? He didn’t. Eternally, He loves. When will His love cease? It won’t. It’s eternal.
But don’t misunderstand the reality.
God doesn’t impose on us the acceptance of His infinite, pure, and passionate love. He leaves us free to accept or reject Him. A relationship of love flows from choice, not compulsion. The catalyst for our heart’s transformation is that “we love because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19).
The third truth pertains to the depth of God’s love. Jesus told His disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13 ESV). By His death on a cross, He revealed the degree of God’s love for all people. He gave His Son to suffer and die for my sins and theirs. “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2 ESV).
Thus, the cross-eyed Christian will see every soul created exactly as God intended, see every soul loved eternally by God, and see every soul so valued in the eyes of God that He gave His Son to take their eternal condemnation.
How can such knowledge not alter my view of people? What prevents me from seeing a soul through God’s eyes? Are you “cross-eyed?”