Your perspective matters
The lenses with which you choose to view the world matter. Those lenses are the subject matter of the author Glennon Melton in a wonderful essay entitled Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt. In it, she says:
Recently I posted a picture of myself in my kitchen, and I immediately started receiving generous messages from people wanting to help me “update” it. Along with their messages came pictures of how my kitchen could look, if I’d just put some effort and money into it.
I’ve always loved my kitchen, but after seeing those pictures I found myself looking at it through new, critical eyes. Maybe it was all wrong. Maybe the 80s counters, laminate cabinets, mismatched appliances and clutter really were mistakes I should try to fix. I stood and stared and suddenly my kitchen looked shabby and lazy to me. I wondered if that meant I was shabby and lazy too. Because our kitchens are nothing if not reflections of us, right?
But as I lay down to sleep, I remembered this passage from Thoreau’s Walden, “I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes and not a new wearer of the clothes.” Walden reminds me that when I feel lacking, I don’t need new things, I need new eyes with which to see the things I already have. So when I woke up this morning, I walked into my kitchen wearing fresh perspectacles. Here’s what I saw:
You guys, I have a refrigerator. This thing magically makes food cold. I’m pretty sure in the olden days, frontierswomen had to drink warm Diet Coke. Sweet Jesus. Thank you, precious kitchen.
Inside my refrigerator is food. Healthy food that so many parents would give anything to be able to feed their children.
This crazy thing is a water faucet. I pull this lever and clean water pours out every time, day or night.
I can’t even talk about the coffee machine. Actually, let’s take a moment of reverent silence because this machine is the reason all my people are still alive. It turns magical beans into a life-saving nectar of the gods. Every morning. On a timer.
Today I shall keep my perspectacles super-glued to my face and say thank you, thank you. This is all more than good enough.
Your perspectacles make all the difference in the world
As one of my favorite preachers, John Ortberg, reminds us, every day you and I walk through God’s world, and we’re brushing up against these objects of such great worth to God — the people we’re driving next to (even when they cut us off). The people we teach or sit next to in our classes. The people at work. The people at our breakfast table. These people have price tags on them that so often we don’t see – a price tag from God that says, “Handle with care. Do not break. This person was worth the life of my son.” Think about that.
You’ve never looked into the eyes of a person for whom Jesus did not die. Your spouse, your kids, your ex, your best friend, your worst enemy, your coworker who gets on your last nerve. I have to remember those price tags ten times a day in my interactions. Handle with care. Don’t break.
I believe that is the purpose of my journey through this life: to see and be like Jesus. When Jesus looked at someone, he saw the image of God in them. He had the beautiful ability to meet people where they were in life. But he also saw their “immeasurably more.” He saw and knew what they could be (and really were!) as a child of the king.
In John 8, a woman is caught in adultery. We think Jesus as a religious leader will really go after her. Instead, he stands up for her, seeing not simply her problem but her potential because he sees in her a princess.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells a parable about a long lost prodigal son. While the son is still a long way off, his father sees him and is filled with compassion. The father doesn’t see his son’s past, he sees a prince.
It takes a conscious choice to see people through new perspectacles – through the eyes of Jesus. Seeing their potential and their promise and their possibilities instead of seeing them as a problem or a pain. But that is the life to which God calls us. So I want you to learn to pray one simple prayer to live into that calling. In every encounter and situation you face this week, say this: God, help me to see this situation, and these people, through your eyes.
– Bob Bauman, Pastor, Edenton Street United Methodist Church