A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW
"From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."
- II Corinthians 5:16-21
I once saw an old movie on late-night TV. It was called 'Prisoners 4', based on the true story of a condemned man whose death sentence was commuted to life in prison literally minutes before he was scheduled to be executed, and who went on to become a noted painter. Anyway, one scene from the movie came back to me as I was thinking about this week's Bible passage. It took place soon after the commutation, when the man had been transferred to another prison. On his first day there, he was standing in line with a group of other prisoners, and had a huge smile on his face. One of the prisoners next to him noticed this, and gruffly asked him what he was so happy about.
The man replied, "I'm breathing."
To most of us, the prospect of spending many years in prison would be horrifying. To a man who almost didn't have a life anymore, being ANYWHERE, even in prison, was something to rejoice about. The difference can be summed up in the words Paul uses in our Bible passage: 'point of view'. Or, to put it in a single word: perspective.
How we look at life and the world we live in has a tremendous impact on how we live our lives, and especially on how happy we are. Perspective is everything. Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll once said on this subject that, as he saw it, "Life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it." That's so true! Different perspectives cause us to react to things in different ways, and to look at things in different ways.
In this passage from his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul delights in the fact that those who have come to faith in Christ no longer regard either people or Christ himself from a human perspective. What's the difference? Well, from a human perspective it's all about this world right now. From God's perspective, it's about where people are going to be eternally. From a human perspective, it's about people's physical needs. From God's perspective it's about taking care of people both physically AND spiritually. From a human perspective it's about ongoing human accomplishments. From God's perspective it's about directing human accomplishment toward accomplishing things for God. From the human perspective we're basically on our own, and all the bad things in life are random occurrences that we just have to deal with. From God's perspective, everything can be turned into something positive, because God is in control of everything; we are never alone.
There are major differences philosophically as well as practically. From a human perspective, God cannot be both three and one at the same time. That doesn't make sense to our human reasoning powers. Jesus cannot have been 100% God and 100% man during His incarnation. From the human perspective, that's just nonsense. God's perspective, however, acknowledges that God is far greater than we humans can ever comprehend, and doesn't try to limit Him to humanly understandable terms. As I said in a previous lesson, a God we can understand isn't really God at all.
How much of a difference is there in these perspectives? Paul says that when we have accepted Christ, we aren't just different. We're NEW CREATIONS! Our entire minds and hearts have been 'made over' into something new. We're still the same person in some ways, but our whole view of life and the world has completely changed. And having gone from the human perspective to God's, it's imperative that we try to persuade others to open their hearts and minds to God, so they may also gain this radically new perspective, and the eternal salvation that comes with it.
Finally, Paul reminds us what's at the heart of all of this: the perfect sacrifice of Christ, who, being without sin Himself (which could only be true of God), took upon Himself ALL sin, so that we could be forgiven, and be made new.
There's a bumper sticker I've seen that says (approximately), "Life's bad, and then you die." That's the human perspective. God's perspective is a bit different: "This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)
It's all a matter of perspective.
What's yours going to be?
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