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Old Eyes

Years ago when I was living in Ireland I remember riding around with some other Americans. I had been living there half a year or more and the people I was with were not an hour off the plane.

As we drove from the airport to where they were staying it seemed like every few minutes one of them would point out some ruined watchtower or ancient stone wall. 

We weren’t driving past any vast castles or monolithic structures. Just the ruins of old stone towers and the rocks piled up by farmers long past to mark their fields and keep their sheep from wandering off. 

I can still remember turning to one of my dearest friends I had while I lived there, Martin, and making the comment that these folks were being ridiculous. How could they not know that what we were driving by was nothing to make a fuss over? 

After all, we had plans to go see some real castles later on in the week. 

Martin just laughed at me. And he reminded me that I had done the same thing on every drive we took for the first few months I had lived there.

I was in a van full of people seeing this beauty for the first time, but for me, the magic had worn off. It did so slowly…but it was gone. I no longer was amazed by the beauty that surrounded me or the history that dotted every farm and field. 

It can happen so easily. When I first moved to New York I walked staring straight up for weeks amazed at how tall everything was. But then I came to make fun of those I saw doing the same…with all their looking up they walked slow and made me late to whatever it was I was in such a hurry to get to. 

When I lived out on the Left-Coast, I was awestruck by the size of the trees and being able to see mountains to the east and west of me (at least on the clear days). But then, such sights became commonplace. I stopped being awestruck by the beauty, it was just my ride to Fred Myers to pick up groceries and get back home. 

And I can remember when the gospel first became alive to me. I couldn’t get enough of it. I would find seminary lectures online to listen to, I would be so consumed in books that I didn’t care for much of anything else…unless that something else was another person like me with whom I could talk (or at that age debate to show what I knew). 

And through the years I have allowed the beauty of the gospel to become like the beauty of the Irish countryside. I see the amazing handiwork of God, yet…it’s become commonplace. I come across things more ancient than I, but am not amazed because I’ve seen them once before. Instead of gazing up at the sheer size of what surrounds me as I did my first few weeks in New York, I walk around now unamazed. 

In getting ready to preach this week I have been looking at the fallenness of humanity and the redemption of Christ.

But it’s something ‘I know’. 

I have been studying the beauty of the gospel. I have even felt myself excited about having the right quote in my sermon or the correct scriptural connection. But I have been excited to show others around.

For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:17)

This week I’ve looked at this truth the way a kid in science class looks at that frog they have to dissect. I wanted to get everything out of it. I wanted to make sure that everything was labeled the right way. 

The truth is, I realized this week…I used to love Jesus more than I do. This verse used to get me so excited I had to tell everyone who would listen.

I used to be so amazed by this truth that I would weep. And I hadn’t done that in a while…not until today.

I knew the truth that I was damned. I believed it completely. But James says that ‘even the demons believe.’ (James 2:19)

I had forgotten the beauty of the gospel. I let myself become so familiar that it seemed commonplace to me. 

And in treating the gospel as something commonplace I sinned against God. I treated that with is worth more than I can measure as common. I realized that I had come to assume upon the grace of God. I could turn to Hymn number 378 and call it amazing…but it had ceased to be. It was still amazing for you…but not for me. But thanks be to God that ‘where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.’ (Rom. 5:20)

Maybe you’re like me today, though I hope that you’re not. 

Maybe you know all the right answers. Maybe you know all the right verses and have learned all the right stories. But maybe you act like me in that van a decade ago, laughing at those who saw the beauty in places you have become accustomed to. 

Romans 5 ends by saying that for those in Christ, death no longer reigns. Rather, grace now reigns leading to eternal life.

I hope that you can sit in that as I have. I hope that it brings you to tears. I pray that you’re able to be honest about just how sinful you are. That you will once again, or maybe for the first time, meditate on how sinful you are and how you deserve death. Then let the grace of Christ wash over you. Because sin once reigned. And death was following close at hand. 

But Christ showed us and everything changed. We are no longer bound to Adam and his sin. Under him, death reigned and was the constant victor.

But Christ has come. The second Adam. And how much more abounding is that free gift of grace? (Rom. 5:15)

I’m happy that I’ve been given my old eyes. Not the ones of sin and darkness. But the ones that saw the gospel for the beauty it is. The eyes that hadn’t adjusted to their surroundings and stopped seeing the beauty around me. 

I hope that maybe, you’ll get your old eyes too. 


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