Did you know that the human body has about eleven million sensory receptors and that about ten million of them are dedicated to sight? That gives a whole new meaning to Jesus’s teaching that, “The light of the body is the eye” (Matt. 6:22). By some estimates, half of the brain’s resources are dedicated to vision.
What we see, therefore, is a huge influencer of what we do and what we are. That’s why James Clear devotes so much time in his book, Atomic Habits, to the importance of filling our environment with productive cues and removing unproductive ones. He urges conscious attention to redesigning our environment for our good:
“Environment design is powerful not only because it influences how we engage with the world but also because we rarely do it. Most people live in a world others have created for them. But you can alter the spaces where you live and work to increase your exposure to positive cues and reduce your exposure to negative ones. Environment design allows you to take back control and become the architect of your life. Be the designer of your world and not merely the consumer of it.” (87)
Clear is primarily concerned with behavior. As Christians, we also want to focus on thoughts and desires. We want to redesign our environment and control what we see in order to maximize good thoughts and desires and minimize evil ones. That may even require us to flee from certain environments and find newer healthier ones.
This isn’t an argument for Pharisaical separation—the Lord can keep us and our eyes even in the midst of multiple tempting visual cues. However, it is a warning to recognize the power of our environment and the influence of our eyes.
And, if we are unavoidably in environments which contain multiple cues to sin, this must prompt us to pray for the Lord to intervene between our eyes and our minds/hearts; to place an obstacle between what we see and what we desire. Otherwise our minds and hearts will be overwhelmed with fighting for purity and peace, and we will inevitably and eventually cave.
But let’s think about this more positively as well. It’s not just, “If your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness,” it’s also, “If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light” (Matt. 6:22-23).
That should encourage us to feed our 10 million visual receptors with all that is true, and beautiful, and good. That may be the true, beautiful, and good words of God. Or it may be the true, beautiful, and good people of God. Or it may be the true, beautiful, and good worship of God. Or it may be the true, beautiful, and good creation of God.
Let’s change or re-design our environment and flood our eyes with light. Then our whole bodies will be full of light!