According to uclahealth.org, "Tunnel vision is a vision defect where objects cannot be seen unless they are near the center of the visual field." It is essentially "a loss of peripheral vision" and can be a result of one of several different physiological problems.
Of course, "tunnel vision" is also a metaphor. Wikipedia tells us, "Tunnel vision metaphorically denotes the reluctance to consider alternatives to one's preferred line of thought..."
Tunnel vision can be bad; very bad. Tunnel vision can be fatal. If we stubbornly hold on to some erroneous perspective that is counterproductive, then our stubbornness can be (or I should say, will be) destructive (to say the least).
But what if we are right? What if we are right, we know we are right, it has been proved that we are right, it is undeniably obvious that we are right, there are not reasonable or feasible alternatives to the perspective that we hold, and only stubborn fools disagree with our perspective? Is such a case even possible?
It's an extreme example, but we all have tunnel vision when it comes to things like gravity, or the properties of iron, or the reliability of the sunrise. We don't (and shouldn't) waste time pondering the possibility of gravity reversing its force on us today, or iron becoming soft and pliable at room temperature, or the sun failing to rise. Such proposition would generally be a sign of insanity (except in cases such as I am offering, where the examples are meant to show the absurdity of considering variety concerning such matters).
Now, I have tunnel vision on some matters that are hotly debated in our culture and society in this time period of history. When it comes to things like the existence and nature of God, the reliability of the Bible, the binary reality of human gender, and other such issues, I do have tunnel vision. I will not seriously reconsider whether or not God is real, whether the Bible is true, or whether or not I am indeed a male human. Such questions are not relevant and there are no feasible alternatives to the conclusions to which I've already arrived.
This perspective would get me canceled, if anyone of cultural relevance and power knew or cared that I exist. Fortunately for me, I'm less than the ants under the heels of the shoes of those who currently wield such influence. And, I suppose I'm sincerely grateful for my own obscurity. There is a kind of safety that can accompany insignificance.
But I am not insignificant. Not in God's eyes. And, not from an eternal perspective. And neither are you.
Though the world at large does not know about you and me, your sphere of influence and mine does indeed matter. It matters because even one soul is of infinite worth. You child, your cousin, your neighbor, your co-worker, the stranger you invited to church, the unknown person who picked up the gospel tract you left on a park bench, the 3rd cousin twice removed who saw your Facebook post about Jesus — whatever — when you take the days of that person's life and the infinite sequence of moments which that person is going to spend in heaven or in hell, suddenly you realize that everything matters; and matters with infinite significance. Your life and mine has infinite value. Your actions and mine are of infinite weight. So, our perspective is indeed relevant. Realizing this, how focused are you and I on what is right and good, and on the things that will point people to Jesus and heaven and away from sin and judgement?
See, tunnel vision (when applied to gospel truth, for example) is really better labeled "focus." Are you hyper-focused — to the point of avoiding all possible distractions — on Jesus and His love? We may consider what others think only as far as it allows us to counter their errors and fill them in on reality. There are indeed more people with blindfolds on than there are with tunnel vision centered on God. Most people today deny the actual truth about who they are, where they came from, and why they are here. I say deny because that's how Paul presents the scenario in the early parts of his letter to the Romans.
Many "do not like to retain God in their knowledge," that was Paul's take on it. It's like most people today can only see what's on the periphery and can't see what's right in front of them (spiritually speaking). God's existence is emblazoned on the surface of nature itself! Yet, many only see around God. They look right at Him and miss Him altogether.
I was simply eating popcorn Monday and thought, "How could anyone imagine that something as simple as the nature of corn (specifically that certain kinds of corn grows with properties that allow the kernels to explode as they do to make the awesome snack we call popcorn) could possibly occur accidentally?" In other words, I worshiped God in that moment as I recognized His ingenuity in the simple existence of popcorn. In those moments when my tunnel vision allows for (or intensifies) absolute focus on reality, I can see such glories.
Do you have tunnel vision? Do you have holy blinders on that keep your vision centered on Jesus? Do you see the truth and reality of God's glory everywhere you look? Or, are you missing the forrest because of all the trees. Perhaps I should ask it this way: are you blind to the massive tree right in front of you because you only see the indistinct and irrelevant movements of the falling leaves all around you. Speaking metaphorically, if you or I walk face-first (or drive pell-mell) right into the immovable trunk of a tree because our eyes are unable to see what is right in front of us, then the tragedy is immeasurably dreadful.
Yet, this is where our world is today. People are arguing over absurdities that have been settled since the days of creation. Many are willing and willfully denying truths that are as plain as the nose on your face. Folks are investing their very lives and souls in things that are as useless and transitory as the smoke from the tailpipe of your car. In short, the world has gone mad. Humanity has — as it were — gouged out its own eyes. Our collective inability to see straight has become our dominant trait.
What a mess!
But we are not among those who are ignorant of Satan's devices (2nd Corinthians 2:11).
"We are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ." (2nd Corinthians 2:17)
2nd Corinthians 13:6, "We are not reprobates."
Galatians 4:31, "We are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free."
1st Thessalonians 5:5, "We are not of the night, nor of darkness."
Hebrews 10:39, "We are not of them who draw back unto perdition [damnation]; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."
Notice the certainty of all of those statements! Not one biblical author meandered tentatively, hesitantly, or indefinitely toward some kind of eventual optimism. No. They each wrote with absolute confidence. They knew! We are not wrong. We HAVE found Him whom we craved; whom we now love. We have found what our soul has desired, what our mind needed, and what our existence demanded. We have found a Savior. We have found the One we need. Or rather, He has found us! We know it. We don't think we are right. We know it! We have sanctified tunnel vision.
To God be the glory! Great things He has done.
It is not of any work of righteousness which we have done, but as a result of His mercy — He saves us! I can see, because He has caused me to see. Jesus has caused the scales to fall from my eyes, and so, I can see clearly. Now I can see right in front of me and all around me too. But by God' grace, I choose in this moment to forget all of the peripheral distractions and to focus instead — like a man with tunnel vision — on the One who leads me on to higher ground. By God's grace, I will follow on!
There's an old hymn that goes like this:
Lead on, O King eternal,
the day of march has come;
henceforth in fields of conquest
your tents will be our home.
Through days of preparation
your grace has made us strong;
and now, O King eternal,
we lift our battle song.
Lead on, O King eternal,
till sin's fierce war shall cease,
and holiness shall whisper
the sweet amen of peace.
For not with swords' loud clashing
or roll of stirring drums
with deeds of love and mercy
the heavenly kingdom comes.
Lead on, O King eternal;
we follow, not with fears,
for gladness breaks like morning
where'er your face appears.
Your cross is lifted o'er us,
we journey in its light;
the crown awaits the conquest;
lead on, O God of might.
(Author: Ernest W. Shurtleff)
Lead on, Jesus. Our eyes are on You. Grant us holy tunnel vision that allows full focus on Your lovely face, as we await Your full embrace!