Rods and Cones

April 14, 2013                                                   John 20:30-31

I learned something this week about our eyes.

I learned that dogs have two types of color-receptive “cones” in their eyes. Our eyes have cones and rods apparently…rods allow us to see movement and shape, and cones are what allow us to see color.

So I learned that Dogs have two types of cones in their eyes; blue and green.

And these two types of cones allow them to see blue, and green, and some yellow (since blue and green make yellow).

Human beings apparently have three types of cones in our eyes…blue, green, and red.

So that means we can see, blue, green, red, and all the various colors that those three combine to create.

So if you imagine a rainbow, our brains process all of those colors based on variations of those three colors.

There’s an astounding amount of color that can be created by simply combining blue, green, and red in various amounts…an exponential amount of color that our brains can register because of those three types of ‘cones’ in our eyes.

Now, Butterflies have five types of ‘cones’.

So they can see two colors that we can’t, along with all the various shades that come when you add those two extra colors to the existing three that we can see.

So Butterflies can register a whole spectrum of color that no human being has ever experienced.

Doesn’t that blow your mind…that there are colors in this world that are invisible to the human eye?

Doesn’t it rock your world, that butterflies are naturally more perceptive when it comes to color than human beings will ever be?

-Now, it doesn’t stop there.

There’s a creature called a “mantis shrimp”, that lives in the Indian ocean…and it has not two, not three, and not five types of color-receptive cones in its eyes.

It has sixteen types of color-receptive cones in its eyes!!

So this thing can see colors and shades of colors that we literally can’t even imagine, because our bodies can’t physically register the information!!

Isn’t that Awesome?

There’s a certain type of shrimp that would consider us colorblind!

Isn’t that almost unbelievable?

There’s a creature on this world that can see infinitely more color than any of us even know exists!

I can’t even imagine what this shrimp must see…but it must see it.

And what boggles my mind even more, is that there must be all of these colors around me every day; there must be a whole world of color around me that I completely miss, because I can only see mixtures of red and blue and green…and just those three color-receptive cones are enough to leave me speechless when I see a really beautiful sunset, or take in a beautiful painting, or simply look at a flower in bloom.

Maybe we can actually be thankful for our limitations when it comes to seeing colors, because just maybe if we were to see all of them…or even just the five that the butterfly can see…we might be so overwhelmed with the beauty that we’d just shut down, you know?

Our bodies just aren’t designed to cope with that much stimulus.

We don’t have the right receptors.

Now, in a similar way, I’d like to suggest that when we read about the Kingdom of God in scripture-we’re reading about a whole world that lies outside our natural field of perception!

So even though we can’t necessarily see it fully; we can look for the signs that point to it, and we can draw other people’s attention to those signs.

-Even though we might not have the right receptors to see the kingdom in all its glory-we do have the Holy Spirit within us, helping us both to see the kingdom as well as be the kingdom, living into this new reality as if we knew what we were doing in it!

-For example, yesterday Christine and I lived into the reality of Spring, even though it was cold and cloudy and windy. We cleaned up our yard, we worked in some flowerbeds, and we did some work to our garden to get ready for another growing season.

It wasn’t exactly a “pleasant” day to be doing that stuff, but the signs of Spring are here, even if spring itself is still hidden from us!

That’s how it is with the kingdom of God.

Jesus did many signs in the presence of his disciples. Some were written down, many were not.

But they all pointed to a kingdom that is beyond our ability to perceive, without the help of the Holy Spirit.

Live into your hope. That’s my message this morning.

Live into the hope that only the Holy Spirit can give you.

Live into the Spring of God…and did you know that’s the only reason we have a New Testament? John sums up the reason he writes in this passage…but it extends to the whole of scripture; it has been written “So that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God!  And that through believing you may have life in his name!”

The signs are everywhere! There’s a whole world; a whole kingdom that lies before you…it’s so glorious that you can’t physically take it all in…but it’s right there, and you can see the signs if you know where to look, and if you allow the Spirit of God to guide your perceptions.

For example, there was a wedding where the guests were given a very special kind of wine…a very high quality kind of wine…

it was made freely and abundantly available for all who chose to attend the celebration.

That wasn’t just a one-time fluke.

It wasn’t just a miracle.

It was a sign of the kingdom. It was a statement of faith.

The wedding at Cana was a symbol of God’s agenda for His humanity; abundant, rich wine flowing like water and freely available to all who have chosen to attend the wedding.

And there was another time when a grown man was healed from a life-long malady; he was given the means to walk away from his sickbed and start his life over.

He was judged his entire life, and after the healing he was questioned time and time again about the new life he had received because new life has no place in our normal field of vision.

Was it just a miracle?

Was it just a one-time fluke?

Or was it a sign of the kingdom…a sign that something greater even than miracles was underfoot?

Was it a sign of a different kind of Kingdom breaking in, where healing flows like that free, rich, good wine at the wedding, freely available for those who want it?

Friends, signs of the kingdom continue to surround us.

But we often miss them because we’re looking at the world through the physical eyes that I’m starting to think were designed to protect us from glory.

Now, I was going to try to think of some to share from my own life; signs of the kingdom I’ve experienced with the help of the Holy Spirit….but I’d rather give you homework! 🙂

What signs have you experienced, signs that God is still actively participating in this creation; signs that there is a new world order underfoot, where life is redefined in relation to death, where hope comes to the hopeless, where healing has happened, where abundance flows in spite of our attempts to restrict it?

In what ways are you living into this marvelous hope that we have been given through the resurrection of Christ? How are you preparing the ground that you’ve been given…not only perceiving, but also becoming a sign of the Kingdom of God?

For Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, and he continues to do them.


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