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Eyes Open

I love movies, read blogs, tune in to my favorite shows, and skim through Facebook on a fairly regular basis. And I’ve noticed for me this can easily be more about viewing than seeing.

Here’s what I mean:

Viewing is passive, seeing is active. Viewing doesn’t require anything of me. Seeing requires me to be engaged, to bring myself more fully to the equation. Propping my feet up and munching on a bowl of popcorn makes sense watching my favorite show but not watching my daughter’s dance recital.

Viewing is more about me, seeing is more about others. When I’m viewing, I’m looking to be entertained, inspired, even moved. When I’m seeing, I’m focused on the other person and his or her well-being.

Viewing feeds fiction even in reality, seeing nourishes reality even through fiction. When the focus is on me, it’s easier to edit or block out anything that I don’t like or that causes me discomfort. But when I’m seeing, there’s truth to be discovered even in fairy tales.

Maybe I can sum all this up this way:

Viewing looks at people either as objects (to make you happy) or obstacles (in the way of your happiness).

Seeing looks at people as people, worthy of love, worthy to be seen (no matter what they can or can’t do for me).

Or another way to sum it up is the way John Paul II talked about pornography: He said that the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much, but that it shows too little.

What happens to a person immersed in a life of viewing? What happens to a culture? I’m not suggesting we stop watching movies or quit using Facebook. I am saying that if we want to be people who can see, we have to be intentional about seeing—through our screens or without them.

(Do stop watching porn, though—the men and women there are being torn apart emotionally, spiritually, and physically, and they desperately need for us to see them. Regeneration can help.)

How do we get intentional about seeing?

First, we can be honest about the current condition our eyes are in. How are you doing with seeing others, whether people on your screens or people around you day to day?

Second, we can open our eyes to Christ and ask Him to help us see. No matter your current condition, Jesus can heal our eyes to see better.

And third, we can practice. Every one of us every day is training our eyes either to view objects and obstacles or to see people.

Question: How can you practice seeing today? Share your ideas below.

Eyes open,
Josh

5 thoughts on “Eyes Open”

  1. In order to not see a person as an object of sexual gratification, I must see them as a person with real problems that need to be solved. Having my desires satisfied with them would just add to their problems.

  2. Thanks, Josh for bringing this discussion to light. For me, “viewing versus seeing” brings up a face-off of the heart. It seems that being conscious to this concept will expose our apathy versus our own personal responsibility toward the activities to which we are privy.
    Being aware of this dichotomy of “viewing versus seeing” for me, brings about a consciousness regarding my reactions. I believe that if we are reacting in a godly manner to the things which we are viewing, we are no longer being passive, self gratifying and selfish.As humans, we tend to be hedonistic and have pleasure for pleasure’s sake.
    In your example of a recital, we could react to the somewhat passive activity of watching a recital by clapping and speaking encouraging words to the performer instead of selfishly absorbing the entertainment and/or criticizing.
    Also, when we see people struggling or in need instead of absorbing we can react. Someone once told me that they take a prayer concern to the Lord the moment they are aware of the need. I have done that ever since (mostly so I don’t forget). In this respect we are not merely listening,we are doing and taking “each thought captive to Christ” as we are instructed.
    There is nothing wasted in God’s plans for us, he ordains our steps and knows what we are watching and what we are doing at every moment. Thanks for reminding us that as representations of Christ in our world, we are responsible for not only what goes in, but, what goes out of us.

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