From the Greek word “ido” (to see), “eidos” refers to something invisible. And I don’t mean to confuse the issue, but when referring to the eidos of a society, we’re talking about an atmosphere that is sensed rather than seen. When you walk out your door. When you make your way downtown. When you’ve lived in a city or area, usually as a transplant, long enough to wrap your mind around the prevailing attitude of the citizenry. The eidos. It’s what gives an area, a culture, a society its unique flavor. And I think it’s something that everyone is attuned to whether they realize it or not. But with reference to blindness, I don’t think the eidos of our society is something that we understand or analyze or question anymore. In other words, we’re blind and desensitized to these things. And that’s not the way it should be.
The root for eidos is the same as idol. And while we may not worship idols of silver and gold and brass and stone as did the ancients, the atmosphere of idolatry is alive and well in America (i.e. worshipping anything else other than God). It’s in the air. Do you see where I’m going with this?
I blame the Christians (because we’re supposedly connected to God). And, as I am a Christian, I have a share in the responsibility. This is my atonement and my prayer. Whenever a Christian points to sin as the utmost reason for the decline and fall of a civilization, I don’t think that they are utilizing all the facts. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Notice the first thing that God asked those who were “called” to do. It was humble themselves. Jesus took care of the sin issue on Calvary. And He forgives our sin even now. He takes it very personally. But He can’t do anything unless we’ve humbled ourselves first. “God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5)
Notice this. Peter, in his second letter, delineates several qualities that Christians should be utilizing and walking in (2 Peter 1:5-7): “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” I’m sure there’s a reason they were listed in that order: virtue, knowledge, temperance (self-control), patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity. But notice that it says to add to your faith. If you consider your faith to be the rudimentary realization that God is real and that Jesus died for your sins. This is just the threshold. But Peter says to add, to go through. We need to be practicing these qualities among ourselves and as such, remake the eidos of our society in the image of Jesus’ character. Peter continues in the eighth verse: “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is essential. Do we know Jesus? Have we received an intimate knowledge of the One who died for our sins on the cross at the behest and insistence of His Father? The ninth verse says something extraordinary: “But he (or she) that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” See, sin isn’t the issue. Jesus is. And when we’re blind to Him because we as a corporate body of believers have not taken the necessary steps to substantiate our faith along the lines of Peter’s laundry list of admirable? No. Essential qualities, you can understand why the eidos, or atmosphere, or whatever you want to call it, is so deplorable.
Take it one further. Extrapolate it out into society at large. Proverbs (29:18) says that “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” The word in Hebrew translated vison in English connotes sight, yes. But also dream, revelation and oracle. And obviously it’s referring to these things as coming from God and not any other spiritual source. When we lose sight of God and His vision for a contented and functional society, we begin to slowly perish. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:9) And I would wager to say that many Christians, through pride and apathy, have lost even that.
There is an upswing, however. Isaiah 59:19 says that “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” This standard is what Peter was referring to in his letter. These eight things will effectively change our culture: virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity. If you see a problem, be the solution where you are and incorporate these traits into your walk and watch the Holy Spirit renew the eidos of your area. Your city. Your state, country, world.
“At that day shall a man (and woman!) look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 17:7)