At Gateway Church in Austin, we are continuing a series called “#No Filter”
Have you ever used a filter to project an image that was different from reality? In life, we can end up seeing the world through a filter that actually distorts reality and hurts our ability to live in the fullness of all God intended. God is the only one who sees reality fully, so how do we remove these negative filters and see the world from His perspective?
These discussion questions are designed for your life group or family dinner to help you apply the message to your life.
Audio of the Message I shared at Gateway South:
Here are notes from the message written by Justin McCarty:
We all have filters that keep us from seeing ourselves as we really are. There’s a version of ourselves that we would prefer. Some of us see ourselves as far better than we truly are. Some of us see ourselves as far worse. We all want to believe, “I know me best” but do you?
Psychologists have observed a pattern in human behavior they’ve come to call the “Fundamental Attribution Error”. We tend to attribute other people’s actions to their character, rather than to external circumstances. When you get cut off in traffic; “that guy is such a…” However, we tend to attribute our actions to external circumstances, not to our character. When you cut someone off in traffic, “I’m so sorry but I’m late for work, really important meeting”. Our filters are backed up with research! We seem hardwired to give ourselves excuses, which creates the perfect breeding ground for blind spots in the way we see ourselves.
Jesus describes this pitfall in the most famous sermon he ever preached:
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your body is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23, NRSV)
Jesus says this is an issue about your eye, your filter — what you will allow yourself to see. Healthy eyes light things up. Unhealthy eyes create shadows, darkness. We all have blind spots. Research studies have pegged it at 3.4 per person… but not you, of course. There are places where we have overlooked or chosen to ignore the truth about ourselves, and it’s hidden to us… but pretty obvious to everyone else.
Back to the traffic scenario from earlier. Have you ever unintentionally cut someone off because they were in your blind spot? Ever hit someone? This is what we are doing with each other all the time — cutting each other off, running into each other — because we have a blindspot we cannot perceive. Driving with a blind spot is not driving in reality; that’s why it’s dangerous. Your blind spots are a liability to you and everyone around you.
- Sarcasm is just your way; it’s how you have fun. But you don’t know it’s escalated over time – now wounding everyone around you, but no one knows how to talk to you about it.
- Your strong “work ethic” has progressed over time into “workaholism”, you push yourself hard — but you don’t realize how hard you push everyone around you, marriage and family are unraveling under the pressure.
- Your tendency to “keep the peace” is a blind spot of conflict avoidance, which is fueling a toxic environment both at home and at work because you don’t confront what you see.
GOD SEES 20/20
We all need some kind of corrective lenses, but who sees 20/20? The Bible paints a picture of a God who sees things as they are. He is fully attune to reality, the truth about things, the truth about you and me.
Hebrews 4:13 says it in an unforgettable way:
Before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account. (Hebrews 4:13, NRSV)
He sees from a different vantage point; His vision is uncluttered by pride or insecurity – He simply sees the Truth. And instead of a life spent crashing into things hiding in our blind spots, God offers to open our eyes so that Light can stream into the darkened places where we can’t see.
- However, this is always a bit of gamble for God. You’d think we’d all want to know if we were blind, but it turns out, the truth isn’t always welcome. We tend to become defensive, angry, or even stay in denial by making excuses when an actual blind spot is exposed. This is why we run from the truth. We don’t really want to see it, not matter how true it might be.
Jesus described this in John 3…
This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19, NRSV)
As much as we need the light, we tend to run from it. God simply offers the truth.
- When you are suddenly confronted with an unseen or wanted reality, it is humbling. When we are content to live with blind spots, we are setting ourselves up to be consistently humbled.
However, the Bible offers a different way to approach all of this. Humble Yourself.
Humble yourselves before the Lord… (James 4:10a, NRSV)
You could self-select a path that inclines you to see the truth about yourself according to God. That’s what true humility is:
True Humility: Right-sizing your self-perception according to God’s truth.
Pride and insecurity are simply two sides of the same same coin — they are self-obsession that distorts the truth. Each is a way of insulating ourselves from the truth. So what are we so afraid of? If the truth about me was known, I wouldn’t be wanted or loved. I can’t be the real me because no one really wants that version.
But he gives us more grace. That is why the Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (James 4:6, NIV)
God stands ready to pour out favor and grace on those who will courageously and humbly live in the truth. As much as we may fear the exposure of unwanted truths, the blind spots are just one half of reality. Yes, you are deeply flawed — more than you think. But you are deeply loved — as is — far more than you think!
God proves His love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NRSV)
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39, NRSV)
No blind spot, no exposed truth about your flaws, will separate you from God’s love. Nothing makes you unlovable to him!
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment… (1 John 4:18, NRSV)
When we humble ourselves, we open ourselves to receive help; humility enables us to grow. In my experience, God tends to use two primary sources to help re-adjust our eyes… to help us see in the Light of His truth.
Hebrews 4 describes the Bible with a surgical precision:
The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, NRSV)
Within it, you’ll find a multitude of things that God has already revealed as true; it has the power to illuminate your heart, motives and life — if you want to see. The key to receiving the light that Scripture offers is to approach it with humility. “God, I am not the most accurate assessor of my life. As I read this, please reveal the truth to me…” Some describe this as “letting the Bible read you.” Why I would encourage as a regular practice: Set aside at least 15 minutes a day for regular reading of the Bible — ask God to help you understand and apply what you’re reading to your own life. “God what have you already revealed that will help me live in the truth?” Perhaps start in Proverbs — one chapter a day for 31 days — nuggets of wisdom that help bring blind spots into the light.
Take it further by getting into community. Find a person that you identify that is running in the same direction and wants to grow in spiritual maturity with you (people who don’t want to stay in the shadows but are willing to risk some light).
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17, NIV)
Begins with a commitment to spend intentional time spurring each other on as you grow in knowing God. Gateway website http://www.gatewaychurch.com/running-partner-guidelines Offers key questions that can guide that time. Approach that time with humility — God what do you want to show me through this person? Finding the right person matters. Few key thoughts for those you might seek out as a running partner:
- Someone who isn’t dependent on you
- Someone who is close enough to see & observe your life
- Make sure you don’t have influence on each other’s income
- Someone who consistently speaks truth
The truth is that light is available. You don’t have to live, cruising along with a blind spot, waiting to be humbled. You could begin humbling yourself today — you can begin evicting pride and insecurity with the truth in love. God, show me the truth, show me who I am #NoFilter — I am going to choose to trust that you will do it in a spirit of love and grace.