Perspective is an interesting thing. If you took your thumb and placed it directly in front of your right eye, then closed your left eye, you’ll get a certain perspective of your thumb. When you open both eyes, back your thumb away from your body, you get another perspective of it. In the former case, your thumb dominates the landscape but in the latter, your thumb is seen within the surrounding stuff around it and doesn’t look so dominating. I do this with life, stress, and anxieties, a lot. I have a tendency to get very myopic and it’s like the ‘thumb’ of the latest pressure is directly in my right eye. But when those pressures are pushed back from directly in front of my face, surrounded by the landscape of the rest of life, they’re not as dominating. It’s like looking through the wrong end of binoculars. There’s only a little hole to see through and perspective really does change when you flip those binoculars to the correct side.
Now, why do I bring this up? For one, I’ve seen this problem in my life and a little bit of time away helped me see it more clearly. I literally can allow situations to dominate my thinking, my time, and my headspace. (Anyone else?) And, because I’m naturally persuaded by my own arguments or ideas (which is pride), I have a tendency to not listen very well to another perspective. Or to put it in the above metaphor, when the Lord tries to pull the binoculars away from my face to correct how I look through them, I anxiously pull them back to the way I like them.
Connecting this to Sunday’s Sermon:
Now, this brings me to Sunday’s sermon and a major point of application for me and I believe, for us, as CLF. The last 18-20 months have been really hard on all of us. It really doesn’t matter which side of the landscape you come from, it’s been hard on everyone. What I’ve had a hard time doing (especially in the last 6-9 months) is resting in Christ and being mindful of serving other people. It’s an honest confession that I don’t mind putting out there. But with this lack of peace has come a wrestling match of feeling condemned, judged, and criticized by a prevailing cultural narrative that basically condemns, shames, and ridicules anyone who doesn’t agree.
Here’s the narrative: say things that don’t offend anyone or disagree with anyone; do things that ‘look’ caring and compassionate; fall in line with the rest of the culture or be labeled…mean-spirited, backward, or you name the label. All the while, others who go along with the cultural narrative are given certain rights or freedoms. And, because I wasn’t careful to guard my soul, I found myself allowing that condemnation to settle in and it clouded my perspective.
So, Sunday’s sermon came at the right time for me. I’ve heard from many of you who said the same. There is an eternal narrative that must dominate our earthly narrative, in our souls. Jesus is enough! What Jesus did on our behalf is the definitive statement for all time from God about our forgiveness. Gazing up on the cross and the resurrection of Jesus, in our place, is like looking through the proper end of the binoculars. It will help put everything in proper perspective.
Now, this knowledge and perspective, should allow us to do some things that are very important right now, in our world. Let me put this in bullet points and they’re not necessarily in order of priority.
- It will allow us to let others share their opinions with us and actually hear their thoughts, without judging or condemning them for thinking differently than us. I’m reminded of Jesus words about the Golden Rule, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Mt. 7:12, ESV). Knowing God’s eternal decree in Christ, should allow us, as Christians, to be the biggest proponents of Freedom of Speech, because there is nothing anyone could say in opposition to us that will change God’s eternal decree in Christ.
- It will allow us to let others have Freedom of Conscience in making very difficult decisions. In the last week alone, I have heard stories of family members who were told they would be cut off by their family if they took the vaccine to keep their job and I’ve heard others tell me that they’ll lose their job if they don’t take the vaccine. I’ve watched our Governor’s news conference on this issue and thought of the folks in my church who are doctors, nurses, firefighters, policemen, teachers, and administrators. All of them weighing very serious decisions. My job, as friend, is not to sway them in their conscience, but rather help them inform their conscience to make the best decision for them and their family, and support, love, and care for them through all of it. I think knowing that “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17, ESV), should put our perspective in the right place. All of the current cultural issues and narratives should cause us to engage more people, hear their concerns, and love them through it, while speaking the truth of Christ. But…allowing them to make decisions that they feel are best for them.
- It will allow us to not use the world’s tactics against them. The weapons we use are not the same as the world uses. We’re not to use unrighteous anger, hypocritical decrees, or flippant sarcasm. Nor are we to use cancel culture, bitterness or unforgiveness. Rather, we are to speak the truth…in love. We are to loving disagree. We are to joyfully endure trials. We are to be ready to forgive because we’ve been forgiven much.
- Finally, it allows us to play the long-game. I am a firm believer that nothing lasts forever, except Jesus and His people. God’s Kingdom will prevail. And as a Christian, this allows me to play for the long game. This cultural war/battle/narrative will eventually eat itself. It will eventually come back around and reveal the ugliness of its underbelly. And in that moment, if that happens in my lifetime, I want to make sure that I’m available, prepared, ready, and willing to help rebuild it into something other than what is being driven right now. Christian, Christ is on our side.
Recent Vaccine Mandates:
Due to the recent mandates on teachers and medical professionals, I’ve been asked by several folks to give them counsel as to what they can do. So, let me say this in closing…our elder board is committed to equipping and helping our people make the best, more informed decision for them and their families. In the upcoming days, Lord willing, we will put out some content in the form of video or blog posts that we hope will help all of us. We will attempt (and it won’t be perfect) to give counsel to those who believe they should get the vaccine and are feeling pressure to not get it; and those who are struggling with not getting it and are struggling to explain their convictions about it. We realize that any attempt to do this is not going to be full-proof nor will it be perfect. But we do want to help, serve, and care for our people. We’re praying for you all during this crazy time.
To watch or listen to other sermons on the issue of conscience, please click here.
Jesus is enough!