When I was younger, I believed that if we would just turn our eyes upon Jesus and look full in his wonderful face, then in the light of all that wonder and grace the things of earth would begin to look strangely dim. The sad thing is, they did become dim. Was it really the face of Jesus we were looking fully into, or had we simply created a deity from a composite of what we believed to be our best qualities? In the light of this, it was advantageous for us to have the world begin to look strangely dim. Once that happened, we could celebrate how bright we perceived ourselves to be.
Yet when I read scripture and consider the testimony of the saints, I get a different picture of what happens to "the things of earth" when the face of Jesus is looked fully into.
Martin Luther King had an experience with Jesus in his kitchen. From that moment on the things of earth took on greater significance in his life, not less. He saw the injustices going on all around him, indeed they were being done to him. But after praying and feeling the physical presence of God in his midst, these things of earth began to become clear and textured, and he realized it was he who was being called to lead the American people out of the wilderness.
Saul didn't intend to look fully into the face of Jesus, he had it forced upon him. To be sure, for a while anyway, the things of earth did grow strangely dim. Yet, with the assistance of Ananias, something like scales fell off his eyes, and from that moment on Paul saw everything on the earth for what it is, a testimony to the goodness of God.
Mother Teresa would have looked strangely at the thought that looking at the face of Jesus made the things of earth dim. For her, the broken things of earth were meant to be waded into, touched, and lived. Looking directly into the things of the world was looking into her master's face.
Perhaps no one looked more full and intently into the face of Jesus than Peter. Just a chapter after Paul regained his sight, Peter was told to see the things of the earth that he had once considered vile and dirty as a gift from the almighty.
Marx's view of religion as opiate seems dimly strange in the light of these women and men who saw Jesus clearly. Bright, full of texture, significant and wonderful are the things of earth in light of His wonder and grace.