Bible reading plan Bible reading plan

Optical Illusions

13 August 2023

A black and white image of wavy lines close together

By Julia Post


“Take a good hard look at Jesus. He’s the centrepiece of everything we believe…” Hebrews 3:2 MSG


Have you ever looked at an optical illusion?  A favourite brainteaser for many generations, optical illusions so intriguingly play games with our vision.  Illusions can trick our brain into seeing motion where there is none, perceiving colours that aren’t there, or seeing shades that aren’t present.  Jesus knew that our souls work like this—that our spirit can sometimes be tricked by our mind, our will or our emotions.  He knew that we would need an anchor, and that anchor is Him.


Using MRI scans, scientists can analyse what is happening in our brains when we look at illusions.  They've learned that neurons can actually compete with one another to see light and dark spots.  The winning neurons influence the message your brain gets and consequently, influence what you end up perceiving.


Light and dark are competing for your attention.  The battle for our souls will rage every day of our lives.  You influence what you end up perceiving by what you hold on to—what you don’t let go of—what you look at intently.


We see in Hebrews 4:12 in the Message: “His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defence, laying us open to listen and obey.  Nothing and no one can resist God’s Word.  We can’t get away from it—no matter what.”  I love how God’s Word is the absolute truth.  In a society and culture that is trying to make truth a moveable point, God sets it as an immovable stake in the ground.  We can’t miss it when we have made Him our centre.


Historians have speculated that the sinking of the Titanic may have actually been the result of an optical illusion at play.  The atmospheric conditions on the evening that the ship sank were ripe for the extreme bending of light.  This may have caused the iceberg with which the ship collided to visually disappear from sight.  Not only that, but after the collision, the Titanic itself may have been the victim of this light-bending, making it hidden from the sight of the nearby freighter, the Californian, which should have been able to come to its rescue.


There are many things the devil will try to put in your way to push you off course or even try to sink you.  The soul doesn’t perceive these things because many can only be spiritually discerned in a sea of optical illusions.  There one way you won’t sink, and one way you will win in life—Jesus as your determined focus. (“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him.” Phi 3:10 AMP)


When I was a child and was looking at optical illusions, many times I initially couldn’t see the image hidden inside.  Do you know the solution that was presented to me?  To stare at a fixed point in the image and don’t look anywhere else.  That’s how you would be able to see and your eyes adjust to what was really there.


Verse 14 in The Message says: “If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul.”


Jesus is telling us here that the only way we will be able to see the truth in our own lives— the only way to locate ourselves accurately in our walk of faith, of love, of calling—is to look at Him.  Don’t look away.  He’s the centrepiece.  Don’t look to the right or the left.  Set your face “like flint” (Isaiah 50:7) and you will not be ashamed or disgraced.  Instead you’ll find victory and joy!