Posts tagged perspective
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
- The Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23
The very nature of joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting.
- C.S. Lewis in Surprised By Joy
Are you in a spot in your life where joy seems to be missing? Maybe it’s been so long you’re not sure if you’ve actually ever experienced joy?
Where do we find joy?
The message that popular culture communicates through music, movies, television, and the internet is a message of selfishness, yet this is where so many people turn to get answers for the deep questions of longing and belonging that they have. Popular culture answers our questions with another question: What do you need, want, or desire?
So for the person asking where to find hope, the culture answers, “The hope you need is found in you.” or “Just do what makes you feel good.” If the answer to our need for hope is ourselves, is it any wonder why suicide is at an all-time high in the U.S.?
Last week we heard the story of Nick Vujicic who responded to Jesus and found the hope he so desperately needed. The type of hope Nick found isn’t in anything our culture creates because it’s only found in Jesus. If you’re looking for joy in your life, the answer is the same. It’s only found in Jesus and it only remains when our perspective in this life is firmly rooted in him.
The Apostle Paul –in Galatians 5- talks about what happens when our relationship with Jesus takes over our life and the Holy Spirit becomes the source of life we draw from. This type of life source is evident by the fruit it produces in our lives. So how do we experience joy? Where do we find it? We find and experience it when we place our faith in Jesus and make him the foundation and source for our life. And this joy is different than what the world has to offer. We don’t have joy because of our circumstances, we have joy despite them.
One of my favorite examples of this is found in Acts 16:16. Paul and Silas had just been stripped naked, beaten by a mob and put in prison – all for helping a slave girl. How did they respond? Instead of having a ‘woe is me’ attitude we see them praying and worshiping God in their prison cell in the middle of the night! How many of us have a hard time singing on Sunday because of a rough week and here are Paul and Silas – having endured incredible physical pain – keeping their perspective not on their circumstance but on their Savior.
So what about me?
The challenge is the same for us today. Despite our circumstance, if we keep our focus on Jesus, our perspective will be long-term and we can see past the pains of today to the hope of tomorrow. This is where we find joy – in the assurance that our God reigns, he’s alive with us, and we will be with him forever! So despite what you’re going through take joy and no matter what, always keep your perspective on your Savior and not your circumstance. When believers do this the world takes notice and the real answer to the question is revealed: Jesus!
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest I have a lot of memories of time spent at the beach. On one particular stretch of coastline where I grew up the sand arched down steeply to the crashing waves. I have a memory from when I was young seeing my Mom walking along that shoreline and from my (very young) perspective it looked as if the towering waves would crash over her. It looked so real that I was scared for her. Once I got closer and my perspective of the shoreline changed, I realized she was never really in danger.
Life often has moments similar to the one that I experienced as a young boy. Sometimes our experiences cause us to react wrongly and often times the reason we react wrongly is often because we have the wrong perspective.
God sees things not as they appear but as they are. If you’ve ever been to a beach and felt the sand between your toes you can confidently say you know what sand looks like, right? But in reality you don’t really know what it looks like because your perspective is limited. Here’s a picture of what beach sand looks like when magnified:
(Used with permission: sandgrains.com)
God’s perspective is not just different in regards to a vantage point but it’s also different in terms of time. Think of someone like Nick Vujicic who was born with no legs and no arms. The world sees someone like that as hopeless. What could he accomplish? What would he have to live for? But God’s perspective is different. When Nick was born, God saw both the helpless baby and the man he would become; a husband, a father, and someone who would have a global ministry that would bring the Gospel of hope to thousands.
Whether we were born into a difficult situation or not the odds are good that we’ll experience hardships at some point in our life. The Apostle Paul certainly had experienced tough times when he wrote:
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
What is he talking about? He’s talking about having a right perspective. Faith in Jesus compels us to not just look at physical but also spiritual realities. This viewpoint changes everything and stretches our perspective to be long-term and even eternal. The Bible makes it clear that the world in its current state won’t last forever and so the dimension of the unseen is actually more real than what we can see.
When we allow God to change our perspective we have faith. Faith that the God who made us sees us as we currently are and also who we will be. When we get God’s perspective we also have hope. Hope that our current situation which seems impossible can be overcome. Getting God’s perspective isn’t just important it’s essential. It influences how we parent, choose our career, relate to others, spend money and so much more. When we start to see the world as God sees it we not only endure tough circumstances, we overcome them.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.“
-Jesus as recorded in John 16:33
And so one of the most powerful and challenging prayers we can pray is not for a situation to be changed but for the vision to see it how God sees it. Perspective changes everything.
In what areas of your life has God changed your perspective?