“A lens is a simple technology. It either bends or blocks light … But lenses have another interesting feature. When working properly, a lens is invisible. It is not something we see, but something we see through. And it determines the way we see, what we see, and what we don’t.
No one comes to the Bible or life without a lens. Our lenses are mostly invisible to us, but they determine how we understand the Bible and the world around us …
Over the years I have found most of the debates about the Bible, doctrine, theology, and religion are not actually debates about what the Bible says. They are in fact debates informed by competing unconscious lenses.”
– “Selling Water by the River”, Shane Hipps
I read this quote in a book a couple days ago and I thought it was incredibly true and also helpful.
I have been involved in my share of discussions about God over the years. I would classify very few as all-out debates, but I have left a few wondering if I could have done a better job conveying what I was trying to say because it seemed like myself and the others involved in discussion weren’t speaking the same language.
I have also had the reverse happen where I have had people try to impress on me that their interpretation of a passage was the correct – and only – way to read scripture. (There may have even been the occasional suggestion that to not see this was tantamount to being deceived by the enemy …).
The reality, as described above, is that we all approach scripture with a series of lenses. We may not know what those lenses allow us to see or what they block from our sight, but they are definitely there.
Some we choose consciously. Others have been ingrained in our way of thinking and environment in imperceptible ways.
No matter how we obtain our lenses, they shape how we read the Bible and, because of this, how we experience God.
This can both be helpful in conversations with others and in understanding ourselves. It could help us not get so concerned with debating what the Bible “clearly says” while also forcing us to be humble in recognizing we may not currently be aware of the lenses through which we are reading and experiencing God.
May awareness make us more charitable and loving … Amen!