Our world is growing increasingly more troubling and honestly, it feels dangerous.
When I watch the evening news, my mind is bombarded with snapshots that confirm this reality,
Another mass shooting, weather disaster, or life lost to the pandemic.
Another victim of mental illness ravaging innocent lives in a misguided attempt to ask for help.
Another stock market tumble, corporate layoff, or unprecedented price increase.
Another hero falls from grace.
Each glimpse reinforces my perspective, the world is unsafe.
I was recently asked by an acquaintance, “Where is God in the midst of all that is going on in the world?” She went on to explain that she felt there are only two rational responses to her question. Either God has abandoned the world because a loving, good God would never allow the world to spiral into this pool of hopelessness or, God is not loving or good. She took a second to ponder her question, folded her arms, as if to protect her heart, and stated, “God is not good or loving.”
Perspective can be tricky.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as, “A particular way of viewing things that depends on one’s experience and personality.”
Given this explanation, perspective arises from what we observe, our interactions with our little slice of the world, and can be heavily influenced by our sometimes-misdirected sense of self. If we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves acting on distorted realities.
We can think about perspective as a glance through a windowpane. The portion of the picture framed by the window’s borders is the basis for our beliefs and emotional responses. An image of beauty or tranquility elicits a perception of peace and safety. An image of despair or pain results in lost hope and fear.
But what if by only seeing a single frame of the picture we are missing the full context, the complete story? What if the unseen images would change our impressions? What if our thoughts or the information that was given by others is inaccurate?
Cambridge Dictionary offers an additional thought about perspective. They suggest it is, “The ability to consider things in relation to one another accurately and fairly.”
As we navigate our lives, we must be willing to do the hard work of seeing the whole picture. First by looking at each frame and then by standing back and looking at the image in its entirety. And as we are looking, observing, and learning all the intricate details, we need to filter what we are observing through the lens of truth.
Perspective must be tempered by truth and the source of ultimate truth is God.
If I go back to my fear that the world is not safe or the young woman’s decision that God is not good or loving, I have to be willing to acknowledge that I am only seeing, she is only focusing on, a single scene in the grand picture. What we are sensing is being filtered through the narrow lens of our emotions. We must be willing to expand our viewpoint and see the heartbreak and evil, the joy and contentment in context.
The daily news shares newsworthy content and often it is incomplete and biased toward sensationalism. The statisticians, report the data, but the facts can’t stand isolated they must be compared to historical information. God’s goodness and His love have never been dependent on the behaviors of humanity. God’s goodness and love are based on His sacrifice.
Remembering that what we see is incomplete, will help us to reframe our interpretations accurately.
So, what can we do to build a foundation of truth from where we can confidently frame our viewpoints?
First, we need to know the truth. John writes in the book of John,
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”… So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. | John 8:31-37
The word disciple means, a student or learner, someone who applies what they have learned. So, to know the truth, we must be willing to be students of the truth and then follow that truth.
Reading or listening to your Bible or participating in a Bible study are two simple ways to become learners of the truth.
Second, we need to be willing to honestly assess our perspectives. In the book of Romans, Paul encourages believers to live out the truths they have been taught. He offers these words of instruction,
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. | Romans 12:2
In this verse, Paul is urging the people to allow God’s truth to change their minds, their attitudes, and the way they interact with the world. Right thinking brings the right perspective.
As we learn more about God through His Word, the Holy Spirit works in our minds and hearts to empower us to refocus on God’s desires for our lives.
Finally, we need to act on God’s truth. The great physician Luke puts it this way,
And he said to all, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. | Luke 9:23
Deny self, our desires – wants – motivations, take on the daily challenges, and follow Christ. It’s not enough to read our Bibles or to allow the Holy Spirit to transform our thinking, we must be willing to go out into this seemingly dangerous world and live God’s truth. He is asking us to remember there is a bigger picture, one that doesn’t fit into a single-window pane, and to trust that He remains in control of what we can and cannot see.
Perspective is tricky but God isn’t asking us to navigate our lives alone. He offers His truth to shape how we see the world and then asks us to trust Him with everything else.
You can trust Him.
You are God’s BeLOVED,
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. | 1 Corinthians 13:12 - New Living Translation