Articles

Articles

Sensory Perception

History has a way of repeating itself, as they say, and many of us grow to expect certain things to happen at certain times. I’ve come to count on a few events which seem to come around about once a year—my resolution to get back into shape, the subsequent abandonment of that resolution, one of my beloved Dallas-area sports teams crumbling in a particularly agonizing manner, and so forth. Along with those, I can usually depend on coming down with exactly one
cold each year, an inevitable if minor annoyance.
 
As we’ve all suffered from such sickness, we recognize the inconvenience of having certain senses dulled or compromised for a few days. Your sense of smell is almost nonexistent while enduring a cold, and the sore throat that usually accompanies it makes every food taste the same, which is to say, like dry leaves (of course, this seems to happen right around the time when you get to visit grandma’s house, or when dad decides to take the family out for a steakdinner). Your ears get that ‘unpopped’
feeling, making your voice seem loud and foreign in your own head, to the exclusion of other, more appealing, sounds. In general, your senses don’t operate the way you’d like them to.
 
Nobody likes it when one of those very important five senses is hindered in any way. Some of us wouldn’t recognize our own mother from three feet away without glasses or contacts, so going without those devices for any amount of time can be frustrating. Accidentally burning your fingertips can make you aware of how much information your sense of touch allows you to record, and how much you would miss that ability if lost.
 
Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to keep our primary senses as sharp and as functional as possible, there is another way in which many people let themselves become quite ‘senseless’. Upon his arrival in Rome, the apostle Paul spoke to the Jewish leaders who came out to hear what his views were concerning the ‘sect’ of those who had decided to follow Christ (Acts 28:22). Upon seeing the disbelief of some, and their dismissal of his testimony concerning the Christ, Paul recalled a portion of the Scriptures to these men. “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying, ‘Go to this people and say, “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; and you will keep on seeing, but you will not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I should heal them”’” (Acts 28:25-27).
 
Jesus also quotes this prophecy, from Isaiah 6, as He describes the outcome of His teaching in parables in Matthew 13. There were some who would refuse to see, hear, and understand—the message Jesus brought would be useless to them, because they didn’t allow their senses to function correctly. On the contrary, many of the Savior’s hearers were receptive and, accordingly, perceptive. “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear” (Matthew 13:16).
 
While a cold may simply dampen or weaken some of the senses, our exercising of spiritual sense, the kind described by Jesus, Paul, and Isaiah, is a matter of ‘yes or no’—we either see and hear, or we are blind and deaf. In context, the truth which we must accept, which must register with all of our senses, is that of the kingdom of God. Matthew 13 contains eight parables describing the kingdom—its importance, value, and majesty—as Jesus invites His listeners to respond as ‘fertile soil’ to His words. Paul’s words in Acts 28 come after Luke tells us that the apostle “was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening” (Acts 28:23). So, do you hear and see? Do your ears work when Christ describes the surpassing greatness of the kingdom? Have you seen the way to enter, described by Paul, Jesus, and other inspired writers? Do you understand that nothing available, nothing conceivable, in this world is more valuable and precious than citizenship in heaven?
 
It is vital that we apply our senses (which must be trained by constant practice, as in Hebrews 5:14) so that we perceive everything we should see, hear, and understand. The message is available—the word has sounded forth, the light has been revealed. It is left to us to choose whether or not we will accept it in full. “He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:43)—if you are outside the kingdom, stay outside no longer. If you have rejected the word, embrace it. If you have let worldly treasures inhibit your pursuit of godly things, empty yourself of them and purchase that ‘pearl of great value’. If you have long since ceased bearing fruit in the field, renew your efforts and begin to show others the way again. Don’t be senseless! Understand the will of the Lord, and make it your effort to see that will done in your life.
 
—Drew Jones