MOVING FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE TO GOD’S PERSPECTIVE
Have you ever seen a picture that looked at one way looks like one thing but, when you look again, it looks like something completely different? The picture below at first sight looks like a wine glass – but, when you look again, it looks like two faces in profile.
You can probably think of other examples. Sometimes, when we look at things in a different way and from a different perspective, we see something different.
I am sure we have all experienced the feeling of suddenly seeing something we hadn’t seen before, of being “enlightened,” something we couldn’t understand suddenly making sense, the “penny dropping”, maybe seeing a different point of view for first time.
This idea of seeing something different depending on our perspective is quite interesting. Because what we see and understand, how we interpret the world around us, is shaped by our individual experience, the people we have had contact with, our education, culture, community, and socialisation process.
People talk about “ways of seeing”, “mindsets”, or “world views”. Another term is “paradigm”, which means a pattern or model of how we see things, how we view the world, the lens through which we look. And what we do is determined by those patterns, models, paradigms, lenses. It’s a quite powerful concept.
As Christians need to make sure we are looking at things with God’s perspective. Remembering that his view of life is not the same as ours – our perspective is very small and limited. Isaiah 55:8-98 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
God’s perspective is bigger and wider than ours, encompassing whole universe and all of eternity.
Today I would like us to spend a few minutes thinking about moving our perspective more towards God’s perspective, and some of the implications that has.
What happens with paradigms is that people make assumptions about what is true, and take certain things for granted. For example, we know today that the Earth is round, and we don’t spend time thinking about it, but historically people thought the Earth was flat – the paradigm changed.
And what happens when new paradigm enters our thinking is that suddenly the whole view of world changes, is expanded, moves to a different level. We start to see things never seen before. Looking at the same thing from a different perspective, we see something completely different. When scientists accepted that the Earth was not the centre of the universe – in fact, the Earth went around the Sun not the other way round - it resulted in the Copernican Revolution. It opened up whole new world of understanding and discovery, and changed mankind’s view of the universe and ourselves.
Now, I would like to suggest something one stage further. There are paradigms in our Christian lives too. We all have a view of the world that shapes our Christian life. Our view is shaped by our background, experience, the people we’ve come into contact with. But because we are human our view is not necessarily God’s. So from time to time God through his Spirit shakes us up, gives us access to new paradigm, helps us see bit more of way he sees the world.
For those of us who have experienced the last five or so years in the Worldwide Church of God, moving from Old Covenant to New Covenant teachings been a change in paradigm and mindset. It totally changed our perspective, our world view, our outlook. But, it has been exciting because it enables us see things we couldn’t before. It moves our perspective onto a different plane.
New Covenant teachings have certainly shaken up our understanding, faith, and view of the world for many of us. They led to a lot of uncertainty, a certain amount of fear, and a natural resistance to change. But something else about paradigms offers some reassurance. New paradigms often include the old as a special case. For example, Isaac Newton’s laws of motion were superseded by Einstein, but are still taught in schools today. Newton’s laws had value, but were only part of the picture.
I would submit that it is a very similar situation with regard to the Old Covenant and New Covenant. What the New Covenant does is move us onto higher level, gives us a wider perspective, a broader understanding. Old Covenant laws had value but were only part of the picture. God is moving us towards his view, helping us see more of his picture.
Old Covenant laws have value, but only if we see what they pointed to. Paul had the answer when he said that they helped to bring us to Christ. They are the means to an end, not the end itself. Galatians 3:21-25.
21 “Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
22 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”
Our knowledge of the Old Covenant law was not wasted time - but it was only part of the picture. God in Jesus Christ has chosen to take us to the next level, broadened our horizon, given us a new paradigm.
It’s almost as if Jesus is opening the blind of a window, lifting a veil, opening our minds. Imagine looking out of a window with the blind only slightly open, and seeing a road. And we followed that road. As we started down the road – and the blind opened a little more – we began to see twists and turns. There were hills and valleys, things that could distract us, and forks in the road. Things that we couldn’t see when we first started out, and if we had seen them, perhaps we wouldn’t have gone down that road in the first place. But we kept following the road because we knew it was the right way to go.
Then Jesus opened the blind little further, and we were confronted with the “mountain” of the New Covenant. It has been a battle to climb that mountain, a struggle, very hard work. But as we climb the mountain and look back to the start, we begin to see a wonderful view we’ve never seen before. Our perspective, our world view, is suddenly so much larger. We realise that the road at the point where we started was really only small part of the whole picture. It wasn’t a waste of time – without it we wouldn’t have got here – but we are certainly glad we didn’t stop way back down at the start and miss the wonderful view.
The Old Covenant law is only part of the
picture. From top of the mountain, the
whole picture can be seen. That’s God’s
view, the high ground, that’s his perspective – he created it! Up in the sky at the top of mountain is the
Sun – the bright morning star – Jesus Christ.
That’s where he wants us to be – not stuck back on a road
somewhere afraid to climb the mountain to him.
It’s as if Jesus is opening the
blind of a window, lifting a veil, moving us up to new paradigm.
13 “We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.
14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.
16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
So what does this all mean in practice? What is the new paradigm? As we move more towards God’s perspective, onto the New Covenant paradigm, what changes?
What changes is that now we view the world through a set of principles – founded on love – not an arbitrary list of do’s and don’ts. Instead of doing something like children because we are told to or not, now we can understand how and why in each situation. Now we can use judgement, wisdom, God’s Spirit.
One more analogy I would like to use is that of a swimming pool. I hope no one will be offended. Most pools have a “baby pool” – it’s shallow and warm, and you can use armbands. It’s good – but you won’t achieve your goal of swimming by staying in the baby pool. It’s a means to an end, not the end itself. You need to have the courage to climb out of the baby pool, take the armbands off, and plunge into the big pool. Swimming in the water of God’s Spirit you now have to make decisions based on principles in order to produce the fruit God wants – the fruit of the Spirit.
This isn’t some licence to do anything we like – No! – this is harder than under the Old Covenant. Now we have taken responsibility for actions like adults. It’s an adventure in the big swimming pool of life!
In conclusion, let’s strive to see the world from God’s perspective. Let’s not resist when he’s moving us onto new level, a new paradigm. Let’s battle up the mountain to see Jesus Christ and his view of things. The New Covenant is not something to be afraid of. It’s just moving onto a higher level – something deeper – more profound – moving closer to God’s level – understanding Christ as focus of everything. And then we can live the mature life he wants us to have – a special, different life based on love and service in power of God’s Spirit.
25th March 2001