My body is showing some wear and tear, as all my friends know. Last fall I purchased some new glasses at our closest Costco outlet. They are good quality and with a good sale price, it really was the best option for updating my prescription. The problem has been that while being near-sighted, even my near vision has been fading a bit. Nothing unusual about people needing bifocals. Unfortunately, when I bought these glasses, I was sort of in-between the need for bifocals. My previous pair had them, but they weren’t really necessary. The only frame and lenses that Costco had that looked reasonably good on me didn’t have enough lens space to include a bifocal. So, I decided I would do without and then look under the lenses which is easy to do.
Unfortunately, these months later, I am struggling to see up close. There is a smaller and smaller distance where I can read without using the glasses but it’s obvious that I really do need the bifocals now. I find myself taking the glasses off, adjusting the distance, putting the glasses back on, adjusting the distance…trying whatever it takes to be able to see and read whatever it is I need to see and read.
If you’ve read this far, I should be honest here and tell you that the title of this post, “A Vision Problem,” isn’t referring to my physical vision. It has to do with a different kind of vision.
Over the past week I imagine you have been exposed to a lot of news concerning the multiple bombs in Boston and the resulting manhunt for the perpetrators. If you use Facebook, you probably noticed several days worth of Boston related posts and comments and maybe made a few of your own. I like Facebook but I have to admit, I sometimes use it for observing as much as I do for participating. Not for “stalking” but for something else. I’m curious about how many Christians express themselves, especially when it involves missions and the world in general.
One thing I observed this past week which is not news nor surprising is that American Christians appear mostly concerned about…America. Nothing too surprising in that. That is where we live and move and breathe. That is where we have our family and work and where most everything of importance for us is located.
Of course, you’d figure a missionary is about to make some sort of comment around this point in the conversation that we need to be looking beyond our borders and remember the bigger global picture of how God views the world and that His view, His vision, goes beyond that of our own personal and family concerns and our own country to every corner of the earth. And if you thought that, you’d be correct. That is exactly what I would like to say. I just said it.
Back to the Facebook observations…I found it interesting that on the day of the Boston bombings wherein 3 people (so far) lost their lives as a result of the bombs and nearly 200 were injured, many of them seriously, that it was the predominate topic of posts from that point for at least 24 hours. I saw dozens and dozens of posts and comments and news articles concerning this tragic event. I wrote some of these myself. This is not surprising and this is not a criticism. Just an observation.
Here is another observation that I continue to think about. That same day I posted on Facebook a news report that 55 Iraqis had been killed by bombs set off throughout their country on that same day. Many women and children were killed by these multiple bombs. Obviously, if that many people were killed there must have been hundreds more injured. The one news article that I happened to find on this tragedy (I’m sure there were others) did not even mention any people injured. I don’t know why there wasn’t even a mention that there were injuries even if the writer had no idea on the actual number. Seemed a bit odd to me.
However, what was really odd was that no one “Liked” that post on Facebook, and no one commented on it either. It may have been seen by relatively few people. I don’t know. I also don’t care. I didn’t post it to gain attention as we’re all aware that Facebook does at times come with a psychological illness of sorts as at least some users find posting and the resultant comments and likes provides them with whatever emotional strokes that they apparently need and apparently lack outside of Facebook. Odd indeed…sad indeed. But I digress.
Funny thing. My mother-in-law later that day commented in person about that news post concerning Iraq. She said, “I saw that post about the bombings in Iraq. I noticed no one liked it or commented on it.” I don’t remember her exact words but that is a close quote and she basically went on to affirm my own observations that there didn’t appear to be any interest in bombs killing innocent victims in Iraq. People were apparently so concerned with the Boston tragedy that there apparently wasn’t any sympathy for anything going on in Iraq. Perhaps too, Americans have grown weary of just about anything relating to Iraq. We put a lot of lives at stake there, lost a lot of lives, and really don’t want to re-visit it I suppose. This same thing seems to be happening in Afghanistan. It may have happened in Vietnam too and maybe in North Korea as well. Seeing any patterns here?
Later, we had the huge explosion in Texas. Similar response. There were many posts and comments and sadness expressed on Facebook at this tragedy. The news was briefly shared with the Boston event before moving back to the massive manhunt. But what about those tragedies beyond our borders?
China suffered a large and devastating earthquake just last evening. Perhaps someone of my Facebook friends has posted a news article about it, but I have yet to come across it. Over 150 people reported dead and over 5,500 injured. Facebook posts and comments? Nothing. At least, I haven’t seen any.
I read an article on the earthquake and saw some pictures too. How can one not be moved to sadness and prayer when there are images of children and elderly suffering from bloody wounds and homes totally flattened? There was a huge earthquake a few days ago near the border of Iraq and Pakistan. Eventually, news articles mentioned a significant death toll in Pakistan, but relatively little was said about the effects in Iran. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone reading this rambling post of mine might even say that they had not even heard of one or more of these other tragedies. The news headlines were seemingly saturated with the national tragedies over the international ones. I guess that’s understandable.
Our nation’s political system and politicians are not on particularly friendly terms with either of those countries (i.e. Pakistan and Iran). The same can be said of China. Do we as believers also reflect these attitudes? Do we not have compassion for people of every race, nation, tongue and tribe…and dare I say, of every political persuasion? Our God does. Have we forgotten the lesson of Jonah? Is our vision in need of correction? Can we only see the tragedies of our neighbors? “And who is my neighbor?” I think I’ve heard that question asked before.
I scanned the article last night about the China earthquake. I skimmed through some of the comments just to see if there was anything of value in those. There was. I don’t know who wrote this or anything about their spiritual life, but it sounded similar to my own thoughts. It is thought-provoking…
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El reviewer • 10 hrs ago
Looking at the comments here, I find something disgusting. 3 people are killed in a bomb blast in our own home country, and we pour our hearts out like it’s armageddon. Potentially hundreds are killed in another country via earthquake, and we show hardly any interest, or empathy. I couldn’t find a single comment from anyone feeling sorry about those dead people in China. Not a single person saying, “our hearts and prayers are with them…” Come on people! We blame the bomber for not caring about humanity – what about the rest of us? Why should politics or continental/cultural distance limit our empathy? Or are we so selfish and narrow-sighted that we only care for people who are close to us? As for me, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Sichuan – earthquakes are tremendously difficult to recover from.
Of course, there are many millions of genuine believers in Jesus Christ in China. Without a doubt there are more believers in China than there are believers in the USA. The figure probably rivals the population of the USA or at least major portions of the USA. Do we not even have compassion for our fellow believers? Does that fact escape our notice? Is it beyond our vision as well?
I’m not meaning to “preach at” anyone. I need this pep talk and reminder as much as anyone else. I can’t even get my physical vision corrected properly. Is it not more difficult to correct our spiritual vision? It is so.
Jonah could see and appreciate a plant that gave him shade. He could see the need to have compassion on his fellow Jews, the people of God. He could not see any reason to care for the people of Nineveh. His book is about his own spiritual myopia and the lessons God taught him in order to correct it. Some of those lessons were harsh, wouldn’t you say? I’ve never been thrown off a boat, swallowed by a huge fish, allowed to live…forced to live…for 3 days inside that horrific environment. And instead of the situation being resolved with a nice vacation at the beach and a break from ministry, Jonah was vomited onto the beach and instructed to get back to work.
God was not pleased with Jonah’s flawed vision. God did not allow Jonah to live with uncorrected vision. Our Lord and God wants to correct flaws in our vision too. I think we would be wise to pray and consider what those flaws might be and get them corrected now before “something worse” befalls us.
Jonah 4:10-11 (ESV)
10 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
Oh Lord, grant us Your vision of the world and for the world which goes beyond our small line of sight and our spiritual myopia.