All of us have blind spots. They’re not sins; they’re part of being a flawed, limited human being. But they become sins when God uses someone to point them out to us and we refuse to admit them. It’s a sin when we’re comfortable with our preexisting point of view and we don’t want any new information that challenges it. I pray that God will use what I’m about to share regarding common blind spots in relationships to open your eyes to any that apply to you.
We see our race, our education, our background, our status, or our peer group as better than others. We look down on people who aren’t as nice or smart or noble or handsome or pretty or rich as we are. We believe our faith and our political positions are higher and better than those of “the other side.”
Increasingly in our culture people are getting their news from sources that validate what they already believe, a phenomenon called “confirmation bias.” They don’t even entertain the thought that there might be another way to look at an issue. Every article and news program assures them they’re right and the other side is wrong. The issue may be racial injustice, masks, vaccines, immigration, guns, election results, or anything else—when we see ourselves as the guardians of truth and those who disagree with us as evil fools, we can’t help but feel superior to them.
This is the assumption that “I deserve better.” Sometimes it comes from want. We feel like victims, and we insist that someone step in to right the wrongs and fix the problems to make our lives better. Make no mistake, some people genuinely are victims. They’ve suffered injustice at the hands of family members, the police, or some other authority. Or perhaps they’ve lost their jobs—and maybe their homes—because of the pandemic and through no fault of their own. These people need our care and support as they come to grips with the reality of their loss, grieve their wounds, and heal.
Other times, a sense of entitlement comes from a very different source: prosperity. We believe we’ve arrived socially and financially and we deserve only the finest treatment. For both groups, entitlement thrives on comparison. The poor are upset because others have more than they do, and the rich look at the ones who are even richer and conclude they have to have a better house, car, vacation, spouse, or some other mark of prestige to keep up.
At some point, all of us need to face the stark reality that the only thing we deserve is judgment, but God has graciously given us His Son. Colossians 1:12 says He “has qualified [us] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (ESV). It’s a gift, a grace gift, that should produce the deepest humility, the highest praise, and the most expansive gratitude. Drug addicts and prostitutes are well aware of where they’ve come from, but quite often, respectable, hardworking, bill-paying, God-fearing, middle-class people look at themselves and believe their current status is the result of their own hard work and clean life. These are the ones who can easily forget they’re desperately in need of God’s grace.
Since the pandemic began and the nation has suffered racial and political upheaval, people have even less trust than they previously did in those who have authority, including leaders in business, politics, and the church. We tend to be suspicious of anyone who isn’t part of our self-reinforcing tribe.
When people feel overlooked or abused by those in authority, their trust can be slowly eroded by constant, nagging disappointment or suddenly shattered by trauma. They learn to live in a world where they are always on guard, always have their antennae up to read people, and are always calculating their words and actions to keep from being hurt again. When they live in this world of suspicion, they question everyone’s motives and assume those who disagree with them are fools. But they don’t realize that fear and lack of trust have become normal for them.
Sometimes, of course, suspicions have their source in facts. Today, people of color are suspicious when a white policeman approaches them, abuse victims are wary of anyone with power, and people on each side of the political spectrum assume those on the other side are wrong and are trying to ruin the country.
In families, suspicion ruins relationships. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be suspicious when there’s good reason to wonder about people. But sometimes, suspicion takes on a life of its own, and no matter how much a spouse or growing child has proven to be trustworthy, unreasonable doubt poisons the connections.
4. Past wounds
For many people, past wounds color current relationships. Abuse, addiction, abandonment, divorce, death, disease, and other problems can cause deep hurts that often aren’t identified or healed. One of the most common problems in marital relationships is the impact of childhood trauma on a spouse’s ability to give and receive love, to trust, and to relax and be himself or herself. Blinders keep these individuals from seeing the enormity of their pain and prevent healing. When these blinders are taken off, healing can begin, and relationships can become stronger than ever.
5. Lost ground
Many Christians are outraged because they believe they’re losing ground in the culture wars. Gay marriage has become the law of the land; abortion is widely accepted and in fact demanded by many in our country. Some are talking about overturning the second amendment about private ownership of guns, prayer has been taken out of schools, and religious liberties are under assault. The governor of Illinois, for example, recently passed a law to mandate the teaching of LGBT history curriculum in public elementary schools in our state. A decade ago, who could have imagined such a law would be enacted?
In the past, when Christians realized the nation was going in the wrong direction, they stood up and acted, leading the charge for change. Today, far too many of us remain immobile, unsure of what can be done, shackled by self-pity, and longing for someone else to change the trajectory of the nation.
In this cultural divide, I appreciate people on both sides who value integrity, compassion, and reason. It’s wise to avoid the tribalism of insisting that our side is always right. Wise people are willing to listen to the points the other side is making, and they’re willing to admit when their side is off base.
I’m certainly not suggesting that we just cave in and give up our moral positions on the wide range of issues. It’s our responsibility to stand up for justice, righteousness, and kindness, but we stand in the name of Jesus, not in the name of a political party or a political leader. And we trust in Jesus, not the party or the leader, to give us wisdom, direction, and perseverance to fight the good fight.
Being a Christian with convictions doesn’t give us a green light to voice those convictions with venom in our voices. Jesus pleaded with the Pharisees to experience the Father’s affection. And I think He is pleading with us so we will serve Him with a beautiful blend of strong convictions, deep gratitude, and genuine love for people who disagree. We can do this only when we allow Him to open our eyes to our blind spots and become willing to change.
This is an excerpt from Love Them Anyway: Finding Hope in a Divided World Gone Crazy by Pastor Choco De Jesus. More at https://lovethemanywaybook.com
Pastor Choco De’ Jesus is the former senior pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Chicago, one of the largest churches in the nation. He serves as General treasurer of the Assemblies of God. He was named in 2013 as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. He is the author of several books, including “Love Them Anyway”.