I have been reading Matthew 6 for the past week or so and I was struck when I read a commentary on the section about “the eye as the lamp of the body”. To be honest, I never really understood what those two verses (22 &23) meant entirely. My ideas about these verses previously made sense, but I think they merely encircled the main idea that Jesus presents in these sentences.
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness.
At times I took this to mean that whatever I look at will somehow and in some way invade my psysche and in turn will infect my mind and heart with lies or truths. Sure, that makes sense right? I think it does, but I don’t think that this entirely encapsulates what Jesus hopes to promote here. Could it be that Jesus is using “eyes” as a metaphor for our desires? Again, this could be part of it, but I don’t think that this fully articulates Jesus main point. Maybe we need to zoom out a bit. It seems that Jesus is concerned here with how we are seeing. I know that sounds abstract, but it is actually fairly straight-forward (and simultaneously abstract :)).
The eye is the way we physically see and envision the world, right? Right. I don’t think Jesus is only talking about what we physically take notice of, but perhaps he is referring to how we see the world–that is, our worldview. Jesus is concerned with how we see the world and whether or not we are seeing our whole world with a particular set of eyes. He says too that if our eyes are good or true then our whole body will be filled with light. How we see affects how we live. To me, this is what Jesus seems to be getting at here.
How we see has to do with story we are believing about life. That is a essentially what a worldview is anyway. It’s a particular story about life that gives some amount of semblance to our lives and the lives around us. Everyone believes a certain story about all of life. Some are convinced that life is all about becoming “somebody” by a variety of means. Others are convinced that the story of life is that there is no story. As Hauerwas likes to say, “modernity has produced a people who have no story except the story they chose when they had no story”. I am not sure what that means entirely, but it sounds cool, right? What story are you believing? Does that story have you at the center of it? Is that story true? Are you aware of the stories fallacy and seeking to replace that with truth? I think Jesus cares how we see the world because it is a matter of truth. How we see and what story we operate out of is of incredible importance because it affects how we live.