We react to many of our situations based on our perspective. Our mind, emotions, and everything in between has a large part to play in how we perceive our surroundings. Even our own senses can fool us.
I am legally blind, and many times it’s hard for me to tell exactly what’s happening around me. It’s one of the reasons I hate roller coasters and never get on them. I freak out when I can’t tell where I am. I could be completely safe but I would never know it.
I am afraid of heights, as I can’t see the bottom. My family and I once visited Phoenix for a ministers’ conference, and we went to an evening service at a very large church. A famous preacher was there and we wanted to hear him speak.
But the bottom level was completely full. So we started going up the steps. After the second floor, I didn’t realize I was still climbing steps with my mom. We walked out on the third level and I practically crawled to a seat. Once I sat down, I pinned my legs to the bottom of the chair. My knuckles turn white with my grip on the armrests.
Since I couldn’t see the bottom, even though I was sitting on solid ground, it didn’t matter one bit. Once they dimmed the lights and no one could see me, I escaped by crawling on the floor to the door and out to the stairwell. Was I safe? Sure. But my eyes didn’t tell me that.
Look at some of the perspectives that Jesus changes in our hearts and minds when we come to him in salvation. The way we live as Christians is completely opposite the way we live in the world before we met him.
Physical Versus Spiritual
Before we met Jesus, the physical realm was the most important thing to us. It’s what we know. We grew up in it and our brain perceived our world through the physical senses. As far as we were concerned, there was nothing else but this world.
We still live in the physical world, but now we have been made aware of the spiritual realm. We now know that we are not only physical creatures, but we also have a spiritual core. What’s interesting is that the power of God is in the spiritual, and then ripples into the physical realm.
For example, look at the way the Bible talks about death. In Genesis 3:3, the woman tells the serpent God said if they eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, in the day they eat of it they will die.
Later on in the chapter when they eat the fruit, they still are alive. Did God lie? Of course not. They didn’t drop dead. But at the same time, look what Genesis 3:8 says did happen. As soon as they heard God in his presence and to the garden, they hid in the trees.
Physical death is not what God referred to. It was spiritual death. Spiritual death is separation from God. This is exactly what happened after they ate the fruit. Before they ate the fruit, they walked with God in the cool of the day. But after, they hid from his presence. The moment they ate the fruit from that tree, they died spiritually.
But the problem with death is that if we do not become alive in Christ and our spirits remain dead to him, if we die physically, our spiritual death in this life transfers to eternity. So Christians know that the spiritual realm is all important.
Temporal Versus Eternal
Before we met Christ, we understood the temporal. What was here and now was all that mattered to us. It takes great discipline and willpower for us to look ahead, save for the future, and such principles. And now that we know Christ, nothing matters except for the eternal.
Paul describes the former lifestyle and perspective of the temporal. In 1 Corinthians 15:32, Paul quotes one of the proverbs of his day, “Let’s eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” This temporal perspective lives for today only and doesn’t care about tomorrow. As far as it’s concerned, there is no spiritual realm or afterlife. We live to please ourselves for the day.
But Christians have a completely different perspective, an eternal perspective. We don’t live only for today. We live to be with and serve the Lord for all of eternity. Our focus is not on ourselves, but on those around us who are not yet Christians and have no eternal future or destiny.
We work toward the eternal perspective that Paul shares in wanting to know the Lord in Philippians 3:8-14. Here he talks about straining toward the goal of knowing Christ being found in him. He considers everything of this present world rubbish because it doesn’t have an eternal perspective.
Even better than that, we pursue godliness and righteousness in this life, not to look good in front of others but to know God and be found in him for eternity. A holy God can only dwell with a holy people. So if we want to be in God’s presence forever, we must be made holy now.
And our inheritance and citizenship is no longer here on earth. We inherit God’s presence forever in heaven. We strive toward that time and long for it. We long for the Lord’s return so that we can be with him forever. We don’t consider ourselves citizens of Earth anymore.
We have citizenship here, but this world is passing away. Our primary citizenship is in heaven with Christ (Philippians 3:20).
Selfish Versus Serving
Before we met Christ, we were slaves to our selfish desires. We couldn’t get out of getting our own way. Even when we looked like we were helping others for caring about others, it was mainly for our own benefit.
We learned quickly how to deceive ourselves into thinking we were concerned for others. Even the love we showed was mostly selfish. But Jesus broke us out of our selfishness. He taught us how to live to serve others, especially him.
When Jesus was huddled with his disciples sharing his last Passover meal here on earth, he taught them that service to one another, being humble and lowly, is the quality of the greatest person in his kingdom.
In John 13, he demonstrated service to others as true unconditional love by washing his disciples’ feet. And then he taught them to become servants like him if they wanted to be great in his kingdom. He called them friends instead of servants.
Those who love Jesus love him by obeying his commandments and teachings. So we too have learned from him and serve others. We live to serve and we live for the audience of one, our Lord who will one day say to us not, “Way to go! You lived for you,” but, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Ownership Versus Stewardship
Before we met Christ, we thought that everything in our possession was ours to keep. Everything we did was toward the goal of owning everything around us. We worked our fingers to the bone so we could have more money to spend on what we wanted to spend it on.
Everything we did was about us, what we could gain with our abilities and resources. But all that changed when Jesus came into our hearts. Now we know that we don’t own anything. Everything that we have is entrusted to us by our Lord.
The Bible tells us that everything that exists belongs to God (Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalm 24:1). When he gives things to us, it is for us to steward for him. The New Testament is full of examples of stewardship. Even the fact that God made us rulers over this creation is meant for us to steward these resources.
We could easily destroy this planet, but then we would have nothing for ourselves, let alone destroying God’s creation. We don’t have to be tree huggers, but we don’t have to trash our environment either. There’s a healthy balance and stewardship.
God trusts us to steward everything he gives to us, to take good care of it for him. Everything from our own bodies, which he bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20), to the gifts of the Spirit, we must be good stewards of until he returns.
Self-Reliance Versus Trust
Before we met Christ, we were all about taking care of our own needs. We amassed resources and wealth so we could do and have whatever we wanted. We took pride in our own existence.
Of course it was all about us, and we pat ourselves on the back for our success. Nobody else helped us. Rugged individualism called out to us. We thought it was the coolest thing to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, and then we boasted about it.
But what if we needed help? What if our resources weren’t enough? What if something bad happened to us, for instance a paralyzing accident that happened to me in 2013? What will we do then? There was no one to reach out to without paying a steep price, usually our own pride.
Now that we know Jesus, it’s not about relying on our own resources. It’s not that we’re lazy, or that we don’t have resources at our disposal. But amassing wealth and stuff shows we don’t trust in the Lord to provide for our needs.
Now we know God provides everything we have. Only by his blessing, his promises poured out upon us, are we cared for. And he takes wonderful care of all of his people. Giving God our tithe teaches us to trust in him instead of ourselves.
So now we trust in the Lord for all things. Anything we have is because of God’s blessing in our lives. Instead of boasting about our abilities, we thank God for the abilities he gives to us. We thank him for everything that we receive. And we learn to trust him more and more as we grow in our relationship with him.
these are only a few examples of how our perspective has changed since the day we met Christ and followed him. He continues to teach us how to keep our eyes on him alone instead of the things in this world.
I’m not saying we’ve all arrived, but like Paul, we strive toward that goal of knowing Christ and having his perspective. We want to see people as he see’s them, souls in need of a Savior who can bring them into his eternal presence.
If this has helped you to understand better the Christian perspectives we are learning in Christ, leave a comment and tell me what he has taught you as you chase after him and live to please him alone.