CONDITIONING: SEEING RIGHT (Jeremiah 1:11-13)
I had a strange experience in 1986. I was sitting at an open space on campus with some friends, waiting for a lecture when these students walked up to us to carry out an experiment. They gave us a card each with different colors on it, asking us to identify the colors. It was not a difficult thing, identifying red, blue, yellow, green, orange, brown, pink, gray or purple. Or so I thought.
But one of my friends had a problem identifying these colors! I couldn’t understand why it was a challenge for him. But what blew my mind was, he was unaware! He would see green and call it pink. He would see yellow and call it blue!
That was the day I realized there are people who suffered from COLOR BLINDNESS: in my 18 years on planet earth, I never imagined such people existed! From that day, I started seeing my friend (Austin) differently…
God showed Prophet Jeremiah a vision. It was a very clear vision, no ambiguity. But God asked him a question: “WHAT DO YOU SEE?” I used to wonder why God asked the Prophet that question. If you show me a car, would I see a bicycle? Why ask me, “What do you see?” When the Holy Spirit reminded me of that incident with my friend Austin on campus decades ago, I understood why God asked that question. And when the Prophet responded, God said; “YOU HAVE SEEN WELL” (verse 12).
Austin made me realize it is possible to see green and call it pink. It is possible to see yellow and call it blue. We see things differently because of our CONDITIONING. We are all conditioned in one way or the other by religion, race, gender or culture. Austin’s was a medical condition he was unaware he had. The unfortunate thing is, we are also unaware of the conditioning we have.
So God wanted to be sure Prophet Jeremiah had the right conditioning. He wanted to be sure the Prophet saw correctly.
God asked him again in verse 13: “What do you see?”
He asked him again in chapter 24 verse 3: “What do you see?”
He asked Prophet Amos: “What do you see?” (Amos 7: 7-8).
He asked Prophet Amos again, “What do you see?” (Amos 8:1-2)
He asked Prophet Zechariah: “What do you see?” Zechariah 4: 1-2).
He was basically asking, “Are your eyes ok? Are you seeing well? Or do you have a condition that makes you see wrongly?”
In all my years as a Christian, I have seen how CONDITIONING could make people SEE things wrongly.
I once had an interesting talk with a brother who made a submission: “The Bible says MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL.” I immediately told him that was not true. He insisted it was, I told him to show me. He opened his Bible to 1st Timothy 6:10. I asked him to read it. “For the love of money is the root of all evil”, he read.
I asked him to take it word by word.
“For. The. Love. Of. Money. Is. The. Root. Of. All. Evil”, he read.
Then I asked him what the verse said. “Money is the root of all evil!” he repeated!
He had been conditioned to believe that “money is the root of all evil”, so when he read “FOR THE LOVE OF money is the root of all evil”, his conditioning made him not SEE the first 4 words of the verse! When I eventually made him realize this, he was speechless! He later said, “Harry, I have read that verse and quoted it for decades! I never saw those first few words!”
He READ them. But he didn’t SEE them! By omitting those few words, the verse has an entirely different meaning.
That is why Jesus said, “That seeing they may SEE and not PERCEIVE…” Mark 4:12.
We are a product of our upbringing. Our thoughts, values, orientation, understanding are all based on external influences. God is aware of this.
So, we have people who READ “A woman shall not wear what pertains to a man” (Deuteronomy 22:5) but what they SEE is, “A woman shall not wear trousers”.
They READ “Every man praying or prophesying with his head covered dishonors his head” (1st Corinthians 11:4) but what they SEE is “A man should not enter a Church with a cap or hat on”.
These things come about because of CONDITIONING. The unfortunate thing is, we are NOT aware of it, so we argue, debate and fight over them.
Imagine you arguing with Austin about him calling yellow blue! Or seeing green as pink! You will wonder, “what is wrong with him?” He will wonder, “What is wrong with you?”
His condition of color blindness cannot make him perceive colors like you.
So, our CONDITIONING could make us SEE things wrongly. God needed to be sure Prophets Jeremiah, Amos and Zechariah had no condition that could affect their ability to see properly, hence the question “What do you see?”
What are YOU seeing?
How are YOU seeing?
God is asking YOU that today.
And whatever your answer, I hope He will respond with “YOU SEE VERY WELL”!