The Danger of Nearsighted Christianity
I worked outside this past summer. I weeded, blew leaves, cleaned tables, waxed benches, and even planted some small bushes. By 5:00 each day, all I wanted to do was go home, take a shower, eat supper, and curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee or a bowl of ice cream and read a good book until bedtime.
That was all I wanted to do, and that was all I did—almost every day for the whole summer. I must have read dozens of books. And I must have eaten a record amount of ice cream for one summer!
By the end of the summer, however, I knew that something was terribly wrong. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what, but I felt so far from God. I felt like I had been living for myself the whole summer.
One day as I was walking down a sidewalk, blowing leaves, I realized what part of the problem was: I had grown nearsighted in my Christianity.
Marks of a Nearsighted Christian
What exactly is a nearsighted Christian? How do you know whether you have become one or not? 2 Peter provides us with some basic definitions.
1) The nearsighted Christian does not pursue Christlike qualities.
What are these qualities?
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2 Peter 1:5-6
These qualities are the marks of a Christian who is actively seeking to be more like Christ. Each one holds so much truth that I would have to write a book in order to do it justice.
The bottom line, however, is that no Christian has ever accidentally developed these. Faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love all require concentrated, purposeful pursuit.
God will provide the grace that we need to pursue these qualities, but we must “make every effort” to ensure they are growing and developing in our lives.
2) The nearsighted Christian does not pursue the knowledge of Jesus.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:8
“The knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” isn’t a stagnant knowledge. It’s a knowledge that produces fruit. It’s a knowledge that lends itself to effective service to Christ.
Many Christians are content with their knowledge of Christ in their salvation. But they never pursue Him further. They never actively, daily pursue an abiding relationship with Jesus.
The Christian who can clearly see doesn’t take “breaks” from learning more about Christ—not even a summer break.
3) The nearsighted Christian does not remember that God has cleansed him from his sins.
For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 2 Peter 1:9
A blind Christian is a forgetful Christian. This Christian has received all the promises of God in Christ Jesus but cares for none of them because he has forgotten what Jesus did for him in saving him from all his sins.
When we forget God’s goodness, grace, and mercy toward us in salvation; when we forget the enormous extent of our sins against God; and when we forget Jesus’ horrific death on the cross in our place then we have closed our eyes and our hearts to the very essence of what it is to be a Christian.
Escaping Nearsighted Christianity
Therefore, bothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:10-11
This past summer, my nearsightedness came from my lack of diligence. Somewhere in the middle of working hard all day and reading all night, I let go of my pursuit of Christ. I made decisions that would maximize my comfort—but they only minimized my view of Jesus.
We have so much to look forward to: knowing Jesus here on earth, serving Him and others, and entering His eternal kingdom in heaven.
In light of what God has prepared for me, I don’t want to waste my life with seasons that mirror last summer in their purposelessness and fruitlessness.
I don’t want to be a nearsighted Christian.