Myopia is nearsightedness, the inability to see clearly at a distance. One of the reasons many Christians do not experience the life-change they envision is their overdeveloped focus on immediate, up-close motivations. Sometimes they want to be more Christlike because it would lead to greater joy and fulfillment, because they want God to use them for His purposes, or because they want to avoid feeling guilty for not growing. Those desires can motivate us for a time, but they rarely last. Why? Because they aren’t big enough.

Spiritual myopia subtly and insidiously makes spiritual progress a personal matter that’s no one else’s business. It misses the big picture—a vision of the majesty of God, the testimony of the body of Christ in the world, His desire to manifest His wisdom, power, and love in every believer. The world watches and wonders. Is Christianity legitimate? Is the Holy Spirit real? Is the church different from any other religious organization? Is there a God who loves me and watches over me? Can I hope for heaven? We can develop all the theological arguments we want, learn the art and logic of apologetics, and make our case for Christianity, but none of that creates a testimony as powerful as our lifestyle. The greatest evidence for Christianity is Christians. And if we are living ingrown, self-centered, typical lives that blend in with the rest of our culture, we are misrepresenting the nature of God, the salvation of Jesus, and the calling of the church. Or, as Jesus would put it (Matt. 5:13–16), the salt has lost its saltiness and the light is hidden from the world.

In many sectors of society and the church, Christianity has been reduced to a system of how-to lists or a moral and ethical code that isn’t much different from society’s best standards. It has become a collection of advice and hacks for how to have a happy life, a wonderful marriage, good kids, financial security, and the approval of a somewhat distant God. There’s nothing wrong with having good relationships and a comfortable lifestyle, but those are best seen as byproducts of the faith, not its substance. They are not the essence or purpose of God’s call.

There’s another aspect to our myopia that can also inhibit change. Much of Christian teaching in certain periods of history, including ours, has narrowed the gospel down to spiritual salvation and nothing else, as if God is only concerned about our souls but not the practical details of our lives. Many believers have therefore subconsciously divided their lives into the spiritual and everything else. But most people find, after being saved, that they really need help with the everything else, not just the spiritual. They have problems with relationships, health, finances, decision-making, and every other area of their lives. We forget that Jesus never talked about the gospel of salvation in isolation. He talked about the kingdom of God. That covers a lot. It is relevant to every aspect of our lives here and now as well as in eternity. It’s comprehensive.

We are made for eternity but placed in this space-and-time world. We are called both to know and love God forever and to demonstrate His character, nature, and salvation in our here-and-now lives. Biblical Christianity gives us answers to life’s deepest questions about why we are here, the meaning of life, and our ultimate destiny, and God calls us to live as the answers to those questions in the midst of our society. When we get a high view of God, grapple with and grow in understanding of His sovereign purposes in creation and redemption, and recapture the wonder and awe of His majesty, we grow. Change happens. We realize where we fit in His larger purposes and live them out in front of a watching world. And our myopia is healed.

Ingram, Chip. 2021. Yes! You Really Can Change: What to Do When You’re Spiritually Stuck. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

We have just released a new Bible Study based on Chip Ingram’s amazing book, You Really Can Change. These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.