This could be a cartoon about modern American politics, but I want to apply it to the teachings of the Bible. It might be argued that the whole message of the Bible is about perspective.
The Bible writers — of the Old Testament Law, the Psalms, the Prophets; of the New Testament Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles — are all about helping us to see our lives from a different perspective, from God’s perspective. It takes the accumulation of all their voices for us to begin seeing things from his perspective.
Some of the new perspectives we need to learn about and practice visualizing are:
LIGHT, rather than DARKNESS (1 John 1:6-7)
GOD’S PLAN, rather than OUR DESIRES (Isaiah 55:8-9)
LASTING PURPOSE, rather than SHORT-TERM GOALS (Matthew 13-44)
REALITY, rather than WISHFUL THINKING (James 4:13-15)
ETERNITY, rather than TIME (2 Peter 3:8-9)
GENUINE VALUE, rather than TEMPORARY PAYOFF (Matthew 6:19-21)
THE DEEPER TRUTH, rather than THE SURFACE OBVIOUS (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Jesus himself is the culmination of all the Bible’s teachings on perspective. In the Book of ACTS, his followers were described by the crowds in one Greek city as “these people who have been turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). In fact, if we take his teachings seriously, we’ll often see life upside down: the first will be last (Matthew 19:30), the poor will be rich (Luke 1:53), the foolish will be wise (1 Corinthians 1:25), and the weak will be strong (2 Corinthians 12:9).
In one of the last books of the Bible, the Apostle James describes the effects of accepting God’s perspective in a church of his day. I believe his analysis speaks just as well to a church in 2022:
1Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? 2 You want something and do not have it, so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it, so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose that the scripture speaks to no purpose? Does the spirit that God caused to dwell in us desire envy?6 But God gives all the more grace; therefore, it says,
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” *
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. . . .
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” 14 Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it commits sin. (James 4:1-10-13-17)
What is your life (without God)? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
— Pastor George Van Alstine
* A paraphrase of Proverbs 3:34.