July 11, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Luke 11:33-36 (NRSV)
“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays.”
Superman had supernatural vision. With his X-ray vision he could perceive what others could not see. With his Heat Vision he could melt objects in his fight for justice. We don’t have eyes like Superman, of course. But, according to Jesus, our “eyes” allow the light of God’s truth to enter our souls. And our “eyes,” through our words and actions, can shine the light of God into the world.
Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.
As a boy, I loved watching Adventures of Superman on television. Starring George Reeves as the Man of Steel, Adventures of Superman introduced me to the one who was at the time my favorite superhero. I’d watch the program on weekday afternoons when I was quite young, using the commercials as an opportunity to run around the house trying to fly. I did plenty of running, but never could quite master flying.
The George Reeves version of Superman had plenty of superpowers, including his famous X-ray vision. Superman could see through almost anything, except for lead. I can’t remember, however, if Superman of the 1950s TV show had Heat Vision or not. At some point in the development of this superhero, his ability to absorb energy from the sun allowed him to focus that energy and shoot it through his eyes as a weapon. (You can see lots of cinematic examples here.)
You may be wondering why I’m rhapsodizing about Superman’s supernatural visual abilities. I’m doing so because, in a way, people in the time of Jesus thought about the eyes in a way that reminds me of the eyes of the Man of Steel. It was common in Greek, Roman, and Jewish cultures to think of the eyes as producing light, not taking it in. If you think of eyes as windows through which the brain looks, this makes sense in a way. Your eyes shine your inner light into the world so that things “out there” can be observed “in here.” You can’t burn things up with your Heat Vision, but you can shine light from your eyes.
Thus, Jesus could speak of the eye as “the lamp of your body” (Luke 11:34). Of course, his teaching in Luke 11:33-36 isn’t really about physical seeing. Rather, the eye represents something like the conscience, the part of us that discerns right and wrong and also projects the contents of our souls into the world. Having a healthy eye is a matter of moral righteousness both in discernment and in action.
Though we no longer think of eyes as projectors of light, we can certainly receive the point of Jesus’s teaching. If you want to be full of God’s truth and grace, your moral discernment needs to be healthy. And if you want to share the goodness in you with others, then you need to project it faithfully. Prosaically speaking, we do this with our words and deeds. People will see the light in us – or the darkness – according to our speaking and acting. When we project the light of God into the world, not only will it be visible to others, but also we will be “full of light” (Luke 11:36).
Superman used his supernatural vision in order to fight for “truth, justice, and the American way.” We use our moral vision in order to discern God’s truth, do works of justice, and pursue the way of the kingdom of God. As we do this, others will see the light of God through us even as our own souls will be filled with this glorious light.
If you could have one, but only one, of Superman’s powers, which one would you choose? Why?
What helps your power of moral discernment to be healthy and strong?
What compromises your moral discernment?
In what ways do you shine the light of God’s truth into the world?
Can you think of other ways you might do this?
Take time to reflect on the last question. If something tangible comes to mind, make a plan to do it. And then do it!
Lord Jesus, thank you for your teaching about “eyes.” It’s good to be reminded that what we let into our souls can be either light or darkness. Give us discernment to know what is truly right and truly wrong. May your righteousness fill us with your heavenly light.
Then, Lord, may I project your light into the world. May my words and deeds reflect your truth and grace. May people who hear and see me be drawn by your light within me. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Living a Radiant Life
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.