Gospel Blindness is a pervasive condition that inhibits the growth of the church in the western world. I haven’t heard the term before, it’s just what I’ve experienced in say 35 years or so of sharing the Christian faith with family, friends, fellow employees, business associates, mere acquaintances and strangers. Did I cover everything? I’m not bragging, and God’s the ultimate judge of whether anything I did contributed anything worthwhile, but I have seen fruit in the process, and I’ve grown immensely through it. The biggest obstacle I’ve ever faced is what I call Gospel Blindness.
Now God talks about Gospel Blindness in Romans 11:25.
For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in.
This Gospel Blindness is suffered by a large part of Israel who as a nation rejected Jesus. Jesus was sent specifically to save Israel as the vehicle of God’s covenant with Israel. They expected immediate deliverance from Rome, and when Jesus didn’t deliver it, they chose pacification under Roman rule rather than accept the Lordship of Jesus.
Israel’s Gospel Blindness is a result of their not accepting and believing the clear Word of God they were already given. The Old Testament scriptures contain many references to the suffering of Christ and each reference is immediately followed with a reference to the glory that shall be revealed when he returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Israel was given both pictures of Jesus.
So I’ve observed that Gospel Blindness may occur from a rejection of what is already known about God’s Word. Let me give you a very real and often-occurring example; one that you may have experienced yourself.
I’m riding with someone to work and a news sound byte comes on about another bombing in the West Bank. I start talking about the middle east crisis and how it was foretold thousands of years ago in Daniel and other books of the Bible. I’m trying to make what I’m saying more relevant to the individual I’m speaking with, based on current affairs.
What I’m looking for, of course, is something like, “Wow, the Bible really predicted the mid-east crisis?”
Instead I invariably get anything else. Sometimes they start talking for Palestinians, or for the Jews, or about the new world order, or anything but the connection between current affairs in the mid-east and Biblical prophecy, thereby validating the Bible as credible.
The response I most often get however, is that the Bible can’t be trusted because it’s been translated so many times, or nobody can understand what it says… or it’s an old book that needs to be modernized… or anyone can interpret it any way they want, just like Nostradamus’ prophecies. Etc., etc. Gospel Blindness.
The point I’m trying to make with the example is that when people doubt or downright disbelieve God’s Word, they are most likely exhibiting Gospel Blindness. You can talk to them until you’re blue in the face over a long period of time and, in my experience, most of them will never open their eyes. It’s like they have scales over their eyes.
So how do we overcome Gospel Blindness? If you know, please share your methods with me. I’m always open to learn and try new things that further the gospel of Jesus Christ. First of all, prayer and a lifestyle that exhibits righteousness is fundamental. I won’t go into all of that here.
From my personal limited experience, I have only been able to get through to people suffering from Gospel Blindness by continually reinforcing the fact that the Bible can be trusted, making it relevant to them, and by speaking to each person in a way suited to them.
I’m not talking about brow-beating or being obnoxious or anything like that. I have a Christian, Biblical perception of the world around us and when I talk with people I don’t hide it. Each individual you work with presents a different circumstance, so walk in wisdom.
Have you ever heard of Banner Blindness? These terms are used in marketing. Banners have been used so prominently and for such a long period of time that most people just ignore them now. They call it Banner Blindness. Advertisers have to use a different approach to get the attention of their prospects, so many have shifted to other methods, especially video.
What advertisers do to break through any ad blindness is to do what they call a Pattern Interrupt. Television commercials are excellent examples of the art of pattern interrupt. They pump up the volume first of all, and that grabs your attention and can even drown out someone talking to you! It’s a pattern interrupt. You were listening at a lower volume then all of a sudden something changed. It caught your attention and made you listen more.
We have to do what’s called a Pattern Interrupt when we encounter Gospel Blindness. To grab someone’s attention to the point they seriously consider what you’re saying, you have to interrupt their normal expectation with something fresh and different. Think on your feet. When you experience Gospel Blindness, think of how to work something into the conversation that is relevant to the person you’re speaking with and that will interrupt their normal expectation of what you’re going to say.
I’m sure this article has done little more than acquaint you with the concept of Gospel Blindness. I’m eager to hear how you overcome this in your own encounters with people you want to reach for our Lord Jesus Christ.