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This is a Magic Eye picture, and they used to be quite popular a while back. They’re composed of countless tiny images, jumbled together in what looked like completely indecipherable, nonsensical patterns. But if you hold the picture close to your face, and then slowly moved it away, the “magic” happens: at just the right distance, with the right focus, you can see a three-dimensional image “popping out” at you. These amazing images are hidden within the bigger picture, using tiny relations between the details to define the true hidden shape.
It’s an astonishing effect that proves an equally surprising truth: we don’t always see reality with our eyes – sometimes, we have to know it in our minds first. Initially, our eyes don’t see the “real” image in a Magic Eye. It’s only our mind that’s able to pick it up by integrating the pattern that’s hidden within the details. Then, only when our mind properly integrates all the myriad details into a whole do we see the image. Until then, our eyes will only see a flat mass of detail without ever beholding the true image.
The Bible can feel the same way. It’s an enormous text, compiled over hundreds of years by dozens of different authors – and it contains sixty-six books that fall into almost every genre of literature. Without knowing the triune God and having the right theological framework in place, the “real story” that is threaded through those pages can get lost in all the detail. At the same time, Scripture itself is one of God’s greatest gifts to us, and without it, we would never know God the way we do. For example, if someone here and now who didn’t know anything about Scripture were to run into Jesus on the street and hear someone declare about him, as John the Baptist did: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 ESV)
What do you think would happen? They’d think this person was crazy! Without the background of the Old Testament – the story of humanity’s creation and fall, the necessity of the Mosaic Law and the Passover – John’s words don’t quite make sense. In fact, much like the first time looking at a Magic Eye, they might seem like nonsense.
But once you’ve read the whole story, and got the focus right, then your mind can discern the “reality” that was actually present in those words all the time. This is why developing a Scripturally-sound theological framework and focus is so essential: without it, the true story of our triune God and his love for us can get lost in the details, and we miss what can be hidden right in front of our eyes.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.