Myopia means: nearsightedness, lack of imagination, foresight, or intellectual insight.
When I was in Aviation Officer Candidate School we had these amazing Marine Corps Drill Instructors. They were our best friends and loved to just hang out… I can hear the Marines out there laughing. No, the Drill Instructor was a special breed of not-quite-human. They were tough SOBs with compassion sucking orifices called eyeballs that were fixed with looks of intense pleasure when observing the pain they could inflict by just grunting. OK, that is probably too far but they definitely made our lives a “living hell” on purpose…and it was for a purpose.
One of the purposes of all the PT (the “approved use” of extreme physical training as motivation and intimidation and punishment) and exhaustion and constant berating was to have us focus under intense conditions. They were teaching us “attention to detail.” Was our brass polished? What our gig line correct? Were our boots shined? Was our locker ready for inspection? Was our hat on correctly? Was our book bag held in the correct hand with the clasp pointed in the right direction? Was our marching step size precisely 18 inches (or whatever it was)? Could we without hesitation recite the 5th general order of sentry or say the phonetic alphabet backwards or remember the proper fold length of our bead sheet? Oh yeah…it was that good. “Attention to detail Candidate!!” (I can still hear that voice) “Since you don’t have any, I will teach you some…down and give me 50!”
It turns out this type of “conditioning” was necessary in the cockpit. The guys who had trouble with the little stuff while marching into chow or sweating on the rifle run also had problems in the cockpit. When the pressure was on to talk and fly and navigate and think about the next thing to say or anticipate the next turn or place to go…you better have attention to detail. The little stuff would really bite you if you missed it. Don’t check your gas at the right time…Listen to Me happens. Don’t check your instruments regularly, especially in the goo, and Vertigo gets you. Forget to turn at a checkpoint and you fly right into the Fiya and have to pay the consequences. Get distracted about future at the expense of the present and you will find that moment a disappointment of the past. Check out those last few posts if you missed them. Bottom line…attention to detail was a tough lesson learned, but it paid off. I actually have fond memories of those Drill Instructors. I can thank them for saving my fanny more than once.
The problem is when attention to detail becomes compulsive and misplaced and just the wrong thing at the wrong time. Attention to detail in and of itself is what we might call discernment in a Biblical context. Knowing what snake to avoid so you don’t get bit is a good thing. Stepping away from the cliff instead of jumping off like an idiot is a good thing. Not crossing the interstate on foot is a good idea. All of those are a good application of attention to detail.
Where we get messed up is when we add fear, morbid terror, irrational phobias, compulsive worry, unwarranted anxiety…stuff like that. You see it in the cockpit.
One night I got pretty scared when an F-14 Tomcat lost its brakes and drifted into the landing area while I was on final. The landing signal officers were on their toes and they waved me off (sent me around for another try) at just the right time. Now I was really nervous. My next time around my attention to detail had turned into Myopia. I was fixated on the landing area and centerline and not running into a stray airplane instead of on my glideslope. The result was I got really high on the glideslope and missed all the wires…bolter bolter bolter…as I went around. Now I was low on fuel and had to go to the tanker. It was night (of course) and dark (for sure) and the tanker was rough (as expected). Once I settled down and finally got gas, I took a deep breath and tried again to land on that tiny piece of steel they call an aircraft carrier. I’m here to tell the story so you can guess how it went from there.
We get myopia in religion. Religion is myopic on purpose. The necessity to be “right” becomes the substance of Faith and is the only thing that keeps you out of the eternal terror of hell. We cower from an “angry g.o.d.” and cannot focus on anything but the leaves of the bushes that surround us. We run for the darkness out of a morbid fear of a torture master. We go to church and sit in pews so we can be reminded of how horrible it will be if we don’t get it right or are not in the right club or didn’t say the right prayer or failed to get into the right pool or…on and on and on…. I know I am being extreme and likely have crossed over the line of civility, but mortal dread and accusation of exclusion is the voice of the enemy. Telling people they are going to hell to get them to do something is accusing with condemnation. There is no condemnation in Jesus. The accuser is called satan. Just saying.
When we know the good news of our inclusion then our myopia is corrected. When we see our absolute certainty in our acceptance as a child of God we have just received sight for the blind. When we know our unearthly assurance we have better than corrected vision…we have perfect vision…we have miraculously perfect eyesight. We no longer live in fear of a mythological g.o.d. but fall into the arms of our Abba. We no longer run and hide and obsess and OCD ourselves into a blinded fury or morbid melt-down. We are set free to love and be loved. This is the gospel. This is good news. God has done it! We can put on our Jesus glasses and step out in faith to “see” as He sees. We get to use our mind of Christ to know the heart of the Father towards us and others. We no longer lose perspective because of obsession with self and sin and hate and anger and judgment and all that really stupid stuff. No no no. Now we get to live in union with Love Himself. Now attention to detail is good. Discernment is good. We can use our unearthly heavenly vision to help others trapped in myopia, lost in the good-bad, hiding in the darkness.
This is why I write these posts. The last few about hell and all that are an attempt to get us out of myopic illusions and mythologies. When we are free to “see the light” in the darkness then we can stop blasting others with condemnation and embrace salvation. We can live our salvation now. That is exactly what Jesus is talking about in the sermon on the mount. Go back and check out the Fiya and Future posts for the background but how about this passage?
Matt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (ESV)
Once we are free from our myopic vision of Heaven and Hell and our nearsighted perspective about eternal security we can finally “see” what Jesus is talking about. We, in the west, have so distorted the intent of Jesus’ message that we read “do I pass the test and not go to hell?” into every single red-letter word Jesus. That just isn’t the case. In this sermon specifically He is addressing the impact of living in anger and exclusion and separation and rejection and violence and blood-shed and enemy hate. He is telling them (and us) how horrible it is to live in judgment. He is using impactful and extreme hyperbolic language to describe how awful and destructive and hellish it is to live in un-forgiveness. He is also being prophetic by bringing up memories of Jeremiah and Babylon as a comparison for their current situation with Rome (the hell of Gehenna).
If we could just put on some Jesus glasses we could see Him pointing to the Kingdom of Heaven RIGHT NOW. He is showing us righteousness peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. He is showing us how He is and His nature and His character. In the incarnation, death and resurrection we join Him in this nature and character. We have union with the one who is perfect as the Father is perfect. We die to our insistence for judgment. We give up our good-bad and spit out the forbidden fruit and look up from our myopic obsession with self. Then we can see again. We can know His forgiveness which becomes our forgiveness. We can live from our assurance and the confidence of our enemies assurance. We can love our enemy because God loves our enemy and loves us. We can operate as His children and enjoy our family in even the worst moments of our worldly walk.
Jesus is our treatment for our myopia. He sees perfectly and He gives us perfect vision. We have to let it go to be healed.