Do your eyes work correctly? Eyes, when working as God intricately designed them, are amazing. They naturally put their greatest effort into seeing vividly what is right in front of them. They prioritize carefully. That is not to say that they don’t take the longer look or look on the edges. There is, in fact, peripheral vision to catch a problem on the sides. Peripheral vision complements normal vision, but can never supersede it.
To test our theory, you could run down a trail forcing your eyes to focus on your peripheral vision. What would happen? In short order, you would trip over something and fall flat on your face. I don’t imagine you would get up, brush yourself off, and proclaim focusing on peripheral vision is the most important thing of all.
It would be nice if we could carry the obvious over into our spiritual lives. Peripheral vision is a help, but it had better not be our main focus. Yet we see it so often in our Independent Baptist world. The peripheral is given the preeminence. The main vision falls on the edges.
We see, for example, standards being given the main focus. We have some churches where two weeks can’t even pass by without some strong statements being made about standards. As you might imagine, when you stare too long at what you should only be glancing at, you will become obsessed. In that environment standards grow beyond general guidelines on the edge to a main focus that ever grows to infiltrate the most minute details of life. Dress, entertainment, and on to every facet of life we go. But our eyes are not on the trail right in front of us. We live on the margins when the trail is so nice.
This peripheral vision that goes so beyond its intended scope shows up in other dramatic ways. It becomes such a habit that now it infects our preaching. We come to a passage in God’s Word that in its proper context has something so profound, so vital, to say to our Christian life and we read with our peripheral vision. We miss Christ, or some essential truth to living the Christian life, and see something on the edges that is in no way the main point. The side point becomes the main point and we fall on our faces yet again.
Let us be clear here–the Lord calls us to a single focus. As Matthew 6:22 says,
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
We need a single vision. Christ wants no rivals. Not even things about Him can have any of His place. Rules to live a way He likes can not supersede a personal fellowship with Him. When I say such peripheral vision will trip you up, I mean it. Though many Independent Baptists bristle when you mention the Pharisees, the story of peripheral vision is their biography. They went deeper and deeper into it until after a few centuries they did not even know the Son of God when they looked Him in the face! As the above Scripture says, keep a single vision and you will be full of light. Need I remind you Who is the Light of the world? Don’t ditch your peripheral vision as it occasionally will be of great help, but ever keep your eyes straight ahead.
Find all posts in the series here.
6 thoughts on “Peripheral Vision (Independent Baptist Truth Revolution #9)”
Thank you so much for once again hitting the nail on the head! I have enjoyed reading each article in this series.
Just this morning I was reading Galations 2 and in verse 21 it says ” I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” I think sometimes our peripheral vision gets in the way of looking straight ahead at God’s indescribable grace. Instead of being motivated to righteousness through His grace, I’m striving to obtain it through the “law”.
Thank you again for your words of wisdom, your tender heart toward God and gracious spirit toward others, even those who are focused on their “peripheral vision.”:)
Thanks Sandy! I never want to take my eyes off of His grace! God bless and thanks for reading and being an encouragement!
I appreciate the series you are doing and agree with a lot of what you are saying. A lot of it I’ve been saying myself for several years.
I consider myself an independent fundamental Baptist largely because I am excited about what we are supposed to be, which is basically a modern version of the NT church, but the reality is most pulpits don’t preach much from the Bible preferring instead to preach about how much they preach from the Bible.
After a few generations of that, we have strayed far from the NT model to the point many people seeking to live for Christ are being driven to leave our churches.
Luke, it is odd how many claim they preach the Word when actually they do not. There are problems out there, but more see the problems than many think. Thanks for commenting!
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I think the idea of this article is woven throughout some of your other articles. And it’s a great idea to weave right into our lives! Some things are primary. Some things are secondary. Some things are tertiary. I would say the topics from primary to tertiary multiply as you go down. There are several fundamental/core beliefs that we cannot waver on. There are several more things that we can allow differences on, but are still worth taking a strong, educated stance on. Many more things are such that you have an opinion or conviction about, but there really is little reason to be heated about. However, many of us take these tertiary issues and not only heat up about them and tell people what they should believe, but we even break the bond of unity and love with other believers over, segmenting the Body of Christ for the sake of a soap box.