Sermon illustrations


Made to See

In her engaging treatment, Teach us to Want, Jen Pollock Michel describes both the beauty and pain of seeing our own sinful nature:

It is often true that once we are made to see, we don’t like what we apprehend. Spiritually seeing, we learn who we are. We recognize our heart’s attachments. We see into our own heart of darkness. It should be of no surprise that when Jesus teaches about corollary health of eye and body, he does so in the context of teaching about money.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (v. 24). Spiritual sight gives us the frightening capacity for recognizing what we have loved and desired more than God.

Taken from Teach us to Want: Longing, Ambition, and the Life of Faith by Jen Pollock Michel Copyright (c) 2014 by Jen Pollock Michel. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Our Lives are about Seeing

In his excellent book, Recapturing the Wonder: Transcendent Faith in a Disenchanted World, Mike Cosper questions the desacralizing (removal of the holy) nature of secular life. Life is divested of mystery, wonder, and holiness. In this excerpt, Cosper describes the importance of sight, or vision:

Our lives are very much about seeing. We talk about seeing opportunities or seeing a way forward. We train ourselves to see in certain ways, too, to see potential in an empty canvas or a blank page or in the raw ingredients of a meal. Athletes train to see the trajectory of a fastball or an opening in pass coverage. Once you’ve learned to see the world in certain ways, you don’t have to think about it any more. It becomes automatic.

Taken from Recapturing the Wonder: Transcendent Faith in a Disenchanted World by Mike Cosper. Copyright (c) 2017, pp.25-26. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Overwhelmed by Vision

On the effect of seeing for the first time after Cataract Surgery:

The mental effort involved in these reasonings proves overwhelming for many patients. It oppresses them to realize, if they ever do at all, the tremendous size of the world, which they had previously conceived of as something touchingly manageable. It oppresses them to realize that they have been visible to people all along, perhaps unattractively so, without their knowledge or consent. A disheartening number of them refuse to use their new vision, continuing to go over objects with their tongues, and lapsing into apathy and despair….

A twenty-two-year-old girl was dazzled by the world’s brightness and kept her eyes shut for two weeks. When at the end of that time she opened her eyes again, she did not recognize any objects, but, “the more she now directed her gaze upon everything about her, the more it could be seen how an expression of gratification and astonishment overspread her features; she repeatedly exclaimed: ‘Oh God! How beautiful!’”

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

The Secret of Seeing

The secret of seeing is, then, the pearl of great price. If I thought he could teach me to find it and keep it forever I would stagger barefoot across a hundred deserts after any lunatic at all. But although the pearl may be found, it may not be sought. The literature of illumination reveals this above all: although it comes to those who wait for it, it is always, even to the most practiced and adept, a gift and a total surprise…

I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam. It is possible, in deep space, to sail on solar wind. Light, be it particle or wave, has force: you rig a giant sail and go. The secret of seeing is to sail on solar wind. Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff.

 Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

Seeing Not A Passive Act

Seeing is not a passive act: the grid that was formed in the past plays an active role in shaping what we see in the present and how we see it. We see what our grid has predisposed us to see. For example, a middle-aged male staying at a nice hotel gets on an elevator at the eighth floor to go to the lobby. He doesn’t “see” the same thing that a young woman sees when she enters the elevator at the seventh floor. He may barely notice who is on the elevator, she invariably will notice, and she will find a space that feels the safest from prying eyes or groping hands. The man never gives a thought to his personal safety; the woman sees safety as foremost.

Dan Allender, Leading with a Limp: Turning Your Struggles into Strengths, Waterbrook Press, 2006, 83.

See also illustrations on EyesPerspectiveVision, Worldview

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our quotes page on Sight. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!

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