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Inattentional Blindness (Matthew 25:31-46)

There was a video that came out roughly 15 years ago demonstrating “inattentional blindness.”  You may remember the video.  

In the video, there were two teams of 4.  One dressed in white shirts and the other dressed in black shirts.  The video challenges you to count the number of times the white-shirted team passes the ball.  After 30 seconds, the video reveals that the white shirt team passes the ball 13 times.

However, there was a surprise question, “Did you see the moonwalking bear?”  And most certainly, the first time I watched the video, I did not see the bear.  I was counting passes, but as the video played again, ignoring the passing this time, plain as day, a man in a bear suit does some horrible break dancing right in the middle of the screen and I was too busy distracted by something else to see it.

It reveals something about human vision.  What scientists understand is that we have a small area of real focus and most of our vision is peripheral or low res.  We save our limited focus on the things we perceive to be important or occupying.

It’s how we deal with the extreme complexity of our modern world:  We pick our focus and everything else outside of focus becomes low res or peripheral.  It is how we keep our sanity in daily life.  If the internet has proven anything, it has proven that we cannot handle too much information.  We do not process it well. We were never meant to be all-knowing.  That is only left to God.

Our problems are this way:  We detect the obstacle, the pain, and the challenge.  We hyper-focus there and sometimes, we don’t see a way out.  But with this understanding of how we view life, sometimes the answer can be right in front of us, but we just can’t see it.

How many times has Jesus looked at Pharisees, Sadducees, and teachers of the Law and revealed to them that they were blind?  It’s not that they couldn’t see physically, but this blindness is based on focusing on the wrong thing but missing the greater thing.

If we could be honest, how often, as we look back on our lives, have we suffered from the same blindness?  Do we remember the seasons where we focused on what we wanted, knowing now it had nothing to do with what we needed?  Was the right thing in plain view, but maybe we just didn’t see it?

The end of the dancing bear video has a simple message that means so much more in light of what we are studying:

“It’s easy to miss something you are not looking for.”

It’s the warning of Jesus to the world.  We will miss the Gospel or receive it.  It will come into view or we will focus on the wrong thing.  It will all come down to what we are truly looking for in our lives.