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I’m Thinking of Getting Thicker Glasses

By Raul Rivera

Several seasons back, I indulged in the television adaptation of "My Cousin Vinny."1 A drama unfolded Within this small-town courtroom that has seen more overalls than a farmer's closet. The atmosphere was dense with expectation. On the stand was Mrs. Riley, for whom glasses had been a lifelong necessity. As time passed, her lenses had thickened with her prescription's progression.

Vinny, the street-smart lawyer from New York, approached the stand. He's not your typical attorney; his leather jacket screamed Brooklyn louder than a New Yorker's impatience at a slow-walking tourist. The audience, with a mix of curiosity and amusement, witnessed his unusual demonstration involving a tape measure. He confirmed a gap—50 feet—between himself and Mrs. Riley, who had previously asserted with steadfast certainty that she witnessed the accused (Bill and Stan) from double the distance enter the Sac-O-Suds store.

Vinny’s grin grew wide as he closed in on the climax of his humorous act, brandishing two digits. Mrs. Riley, squinting through her 10-layer thick lenses, assuredly doubles the count. A current of anticipation and forthcoming awe astounded the audience. With the finesse of an entertainer, Vinny unveiled the reality: there were, unequivocally, only two fingers.

The decisive instant unfolded as Mrs. Riley conceded with her characteristic wit, "I’m Thinking of Getting Thicker Glasses." And just like that, she's not just the lady with thick glasses; she's a legend. And the jury is thinking they just got tickets to the best show in town.

Trusting Flawed Memory

Mrs. Riley tried her best to remember what happened that day. Honest as she was, her story didn't quite hit the mark because her eyes—and the glasses meant to correct them—just weren’t cutting it. It’s a funny reminder that what we think we know for sure can be as out of focus as a worn-out pair of specs. This scene in the movie, though it gets us laughing, lines up with the serious point made in John 14:26.

26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you (NKJV).

Jesus imparted to His disciples that everything they would need for learning would be verified by the Helper, whom God the Father was set to dispatch. This Helper is identified as the Holy Spirit. Often, we rely on various things aside from the Holy Spirit to shape our perception of God and our general worldview. Analogous to Mrs. Riley, who viewed her surroundings through lenses and was in need of an update, the Helper serves a similar purpose for us. Hebrews 5:14 explains that individuals achieve maturity when they can discern good from evil, a skill honed through the continual training of their senses.

14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

How Thick Are My Glasses?

When we look at John 14:26 and Hebrews 5:14, four figurative layers of thickness stand out, which will be detailed below. I am going to liken the Helper to a pair of glasses. He is the one who helps you see the world as you ought. Vinny asked Mrs. Riley, “How many different levels of thickness have you gotten through?” That’s an appropriate question we should ask ourselves.

  1. The Helper is your Teacher. He will instruct you in all the essentials. He uses the Scriptures to do this. Immersing yourself in reading and reflecting on the Scriptures lays down a foundational layer of understanding upon which the Helper can construct additional layers of depth.

  2. The Helper is your Reminder. In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis uses Dr. Johnson's observation that "people need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed." The Helper brings to your remembrance all that Jesus has already said. I cannot reiterate enough that you cannot hear the nudgings of the Helper if you do not have a Word of God bank inside you already. How can he remind you of what Jesus has said if you do not know what Jesus has said?

  3. Exercise: Maintaining constant training is critical for our learning and development. This involves the old-fashioned but incredibly valuable practice of setting aside time to read and understand the Bible deeply. When you immerse yourself in the Bible, you provide the Helper with all He needs to educate you and bring to your mind the words of Jesus. If the sum-total of your instruction comes to you only through what you hear from the pulpit each Sunday, you may stray and find yourself unable to discern good from evil. Reports are frequent of many churches that have drifted from the truth, now teaching unsound doctrines.

    Surveys conducted with pastors and preachers about their weekly Bible reading and study habits reveal alarmingly scant amounts of time devoted to this practice — often less than ten minutes a day. This scant engagement with Scripture is likely why so many have lost their way. Attending church and listening to the message is important, but it should be supplemental to a believer’s walk.  The apostle Paul himself applauded the inhabitants of Berea in Acts 17:11, for they carefully paid attention to Paul’s preaching but then they went and for themselves searched the Scriptures daily to discover whether what Paul preached was as he said. 

    11 These [Bereans] were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 

    This diligent approach by the Bereans enabled the Helper to lead them to the correct understanding of God and His Son, Jesus. As your familiarity with the Scriptures increases, so does the ability of the Helper to quicken your mind with the teachings of Jesus.

  4. Senses: Our view of the world is filtered through our five senses, which naturally tend to be rebellious towards the things of God. 2 Paul reminds us that we were by nature children of wrath. 3 Regular study of the Bible is essential to discipline our senses and align them with the teachings of Scripture. This is our strategy to avoid sensuality, which is often confused with sexual sin. It essentially refers to a life lived and experienced solely through our unchecked senses. Without the guidance of Scripture, we live and make decisions in the absence of restraint. This absence makes us prone to falter or, even worse, to be led astray4 without knowing.

Final Thought

In this journey of life, where we strive to perceive life through the clearest lens, we must acknowledge the occasional blur that our human limitations cast upon our sight. Like Mrs. Riley, we all look through glasses that may distort our vision in subtle ways. We are reminded that daily reliance on the Holy Spirit—our spiritual corrective—is essential for clarity. It is He who refines our understanding and perception, ensuring that our discernment of truth is not obscured by the ‘thickness’ of our preconceptions or the 'layers' of our flawed worldly wisdom. The scriptures serve as our benchmark, the foundation upon which the Holy Spirit can remind and instruct us.

Reflecting on Mrs. Riley's words forces me to acknowledge that a deep understanding of the Scriptures is not merely an academic pursuit. It vitally impacts our eternal destiny — union with God or everlasting separation. With this realization, I humbly admit, "I'm thinking of getting thicker glasses."

  1. I found the film so engaging that, around a year later, I invited my wife to enjoy it with me. We accessed it through a streaming platform. However, our excitement quickly turned to disappointment as the television broadcast version had been significantly scrubbed clean from the original. Within the first seven minutes, we decided to stop watching.
  2. Ephesians 2:3 “among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others (NKJV).”
  3. Ephesians 5:19-21 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
  4. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.

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