Tunnel Vision

Tunnel vision. It can be a good thing and it can be a bad thing, but it is always an extreme thing. And even when the focus is a positive one, having tunnel vision can often make us miss out on seeing all that exists outside our narrow frame of focus. 

I’m naturally a task-oriented, performance-based person. In other words, I’m a list-writer who defines success based on how well I accomplish my goal. It’s not the worst thing, but it’s not the best either. I have to constantly remind myself that my to-do list is less important than the people I interact with and that my imperfect performance is encoded in my imperfect DNA.

But every time I remind myself of these things, that tunnel vision creeps in again – it’s my task-oriented tendency coming through.

I’m supposed to be like Jesus. And Jesus is boundlessly gracious to us. So I must strive to be gracious to others as Christ was and is gracious towards me.

That’s true, right? I’m sure all of us would agree that we are called to mirror His grace in our dealings with the world.

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. | John 1:16

If we have received such grace ourselves, how could we not also show the same measure of grace to others?

And so I set out to be abundantly gracious always – something I knew I was falling short in. And in this self-awareness of needing to improve here, the tunnel vision sets in.

First on my to-do list:

Be abundantly gracious always.

Then comes the performance evaluation. There are usually far more failures than not. My subpar performance only makes the tunnel vision worse.

Inevitably, number two on my to-do list becomes:

Be abundantly gracious always.

The cycle continues. Somewhere along the way, I’ve lost sight of the holistic character of Christ and have focused in on this one little piece (albeit it, a beautiful one).

He is abundantly gracious. I am not.
This is an area of weakness. I must do better. 

The tunnel gets narrower. It’s no longer about Him, but about my performance. And now, I have not only lost sight of the other attributes of Christ, but also of Christ Himself.

Tunnel vision keeps me from remembering that though He is gracious, He is also just; though He is gracious, He is also honest and faithful and righteous and holy.

It isn’t just one of these areas that I need to reflect Him in. It’s all of them. Just as He is just, I must also be. Just as He is faithful, I must also be. Just as He is righteous, I must also be. Above all, I must love like Him – with fulness of heart, with sincerity, for all people, in all situations.

When I become so focused on showing grace at the expense of being honest, grace becomes worthless. When I become so focused on demanding faithfulness at the expense of grace, faithfulness becomes trivial.

When I become so focused on enforcing the “rules”
of the Bible at the expense of loving people,
it is no longer Christ who is on display,
but myself.

“Christian hypocrisy” is born when tunnel vision runs rampant amongst us. Friends, this is how we lose our testimony in the world. If we’re going to claim Christ, then we must be ready to love all people, regardless of their sins. If we’re going to claim Christ, then we must be ready to work on reflecting all of His attributes, regardless of what we think we need to work on – because the truth is, we fall terribly short of all of them.

Jesus displayed each of His characteristics simultaneously and in perfection – something that none of us will be able to do, no matter how many times it finds its way onto our to-do lists, no matter how much value we place in performance. Why? Because in the end, it’s not about us. It never was.

It’s about Him. 

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. | 1 Peter 1:13

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