Selective Visual Perception: How Well Do You See?

Roger Meyer (guest columnist)
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The ability to see is a wonderful, incredible gift from our Creator. You may have an eye exam to check your vision. What about your spiritual vision? How well do you see?

Human beings have been given the incredible gift of sight. “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both” (Proverbs 20:12). The human eye is marvelous, but sight requires more than just the eye. While the eye “collects” the images that light transmits to the retina, turning the images into electrical signals, those signals must be transmitted by the optic nerve to the cerebral cortex for processing.

But vision is not just a simple translation of these retinal images. The brain has to perceive or interpret the information. But our perception is selective and limited physiologically and cognitively. We cannot see “everything” collected in the image. There is too much information to process, so our brain filters out what is relevant and essential, while omitting what is not. As a result, what we see is highly interpreted by our brain.

The same is true with our hearing, which is also highly filtered. We have to “lock on” to what is relevant or we would never be able to have a conversation in a crowded room. Perhaps you have heard your name spoken in a hushed tone in a noisy room with many conversations going on at once? If so, you strained to hear what was being said about you out of dozens of sounds occurring all at once. We would be overwhelmed without our brain’s ability to process the sounds and determine what is important.

And the same is true with our eyesight. While we look straight ahead, we need to be able to see the object coming in our peripheral vision and quickly determine that we need to duck or jump out of the way. We need to be able to “zero in” on a page full of words or columns of numbers to find what we are looking for. Our brain filters a change in facial expression—the faint smile or the slightly raised eyebrow of the person with whom we are conversing—while filtering out the background movements of others in the room. This is the selective perception of our sight.

There are a number of eye diseases or conditions that affect a person’s ability to see clearly. Two common conditions are myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness), both of which are easily correctable with glasses or contacts. There are diseases such as conjunctivitis, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or macular degeneration that affect a person’s vision and can lead to blindness.

But there is another type of blindness the Bible talks about. While the Bible gives accounts of physical blindness being healed, it also speaks of spiritual blindness. Chapters nine and ten of the Gospel of John give the example of a man who was blind from birth and was miraculously healed by Jesus Christ. The Pharisees were “unable to see” the event for what it was, or “see” who Jesus was. These Pharisees were spiritually blind. Christ even called them “blind leaders of the blind” in Matthew 15:14 and “blind guides” in Matthew 23:16 and 24.

There are many scriptures in the Bible about spiritual blindness. What is it that causes spiritual blindness? The Apostle Paul talks about this in 2 Corinthians 4:3–4. “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

Many today are blinded by Satan. Why? It was prophesied! For more on this subject, read the Tomorrow’s World magazine articles “Spiritual Blindness Prophesied! and “Which Christ Do YOU Worship?” or order the booklet Do You Believe the True Gospel?