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Let's Patch It Up

My son, at two years of age, was diagnosed with amblyopia and accommodative esotropia. In terms we all understand, he has a lazy eye and is farsighted and crossing occurs when he tries to focus. For a while we have had to place a patch over the good eye in an effort to strengthen the weak eye, and he also wears glasses to correct his farsightedness. Daily we watch his eye to see how it is progressing, and we try to do our best at keeping the frames on his face to help relieve the difficulty he has focusing.

I started thinking about the act of placing a patch over a perfectly good eye in an effort to strengthen a weaker eye. The weak, or lazy, eye became so because it was not being used as much as the stronger eye and because of the focusing issue. I began thinking about Paul the Apostle's teaching on limiting our freedoms or liberties, as a mature Christian, in an effort not to cause a weaker brother to stumble. We are instructed to curb our freedoms and liberties when in view of a weaker brother so that we will not be an obstacle to his maturity in Christ. Some people that enter into a relationship with Christ have come from a past of deep, dark sin. Sometimes, in an effort to be like Christ and leave that dead life behind, they do not practice anything that they did in their former life or even go anywhere near the things or places they used to go. However, many times, after a Christian has grown in his relationship with Christ, he learns a positive, sin-free life of balance and moderation and is able to express Christian liberties. I say "Christian" liberties because the above does not indicate that a person would be permitted to return to a life of sin so long as it is practiced in moderation.

Considering my son's eye caused my mind to board this train of thought. A weaker brother who is trying to focus on a new life in Christ may have trouble doing so. Things may block his view, he might get "something in his eye," or his view of Christ and the Christ life may be blurry at first. As mature Christians, it is our responsibility to create the best possible environment for that new babe in Christ to grow and become mature in Christ. Many times this will include us "patching" ourselves, not in an effort to hide anything we should not be doing, but to encourage the brother see more clearly without anything clouding his view. There is absolutely nothing wrong with my son's good eye, as respects its alignment and line of sight. We are not hiding an eye that is useless, or has things in it, or is not worthy to be exposed. We are patching that good eye for the sole purpose of creating a greater opportunity for the other eye to be used correctly.

Requesting this of the good eye is sacrificial and, frankly, inconvenient. Our son rejects our attempts to patch the good eye daily. To him, he does not see why his best option for focus and sight should be eliminated. But to us who see the bigger picture, we know he will not always have to wear a patch, and both eyes will be strong and focused together. The same is true in Christian brotherhood. To a mature Christian, limiting freedoms may seem sacrificial or inconvenient, and he may not see why his balanced and moderate life should be restricted just because someone else is having trouble focusing. But God sees the big picture and He knows that the limitations will not last forever and both brothers will eventually be strong and focused on Him together.

The illustration of each member of the Body of Christ being important to the Kingdom is a beautiful picture of how we are to live as Christians and respect our fellow body members. What good is the hand without the eye, or the eyes without feet? Surely my son will have a much more enjoyable life with two functioning and strong eyes. Surely the Body of Christ will fare much better with healthy and whole parts. Each of us has a place. Sometimes one part may have to sacrifice a little in order for the Body to be whole. Is it worth it to us to patch the good eye of our son so someday he may see stereoscopically? Absolutely. Is it worth it to limit our freedoms as Christians in an effort to see someone else becomes stronger and mature in Christ? Absolutely. For when the Body is whole, oh, how great a work can be accomplished. Someday my son will see correctly because of his sacrifice. Someday, someone will have eternal life because of yours.