“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” 2 Corinthians 5:16
Are you a glass-half-full or half-empty type of person? All you cynics out there (some of you would prefer to be called “realists”) probably get pretty irked by those type of people who only see through rose-colored glasses. And you optimists probably get annoyed by those “downers”! Some people just seem to see the world optimistically, while others see it pessimistically, and still others “realistically.”
All of us experience life through different filters, different points of view, shaped by all sorts of things…how you were raised, the events that have shaped you, your opinions, your beliefs, your mood, etc. Even two different witnesses of the exact same crime can tell different versions of what happened because they experience the event through their own lenses.
We all have different points of view on life. This week’s devo challenges us to have God’s point of view, specifically to view people through his lens.
Basically, there are two different “lenses” through which we can see the world. First is the “worldly point of view.” What does it mean to view people in a “worldly” way?
Basically, it means we judge others based on the values of our sinful world. We place value on people based on what they can do for us or what we can get from them. We may judge based on outward appearance. We might judge based on past mistakes or previous slights against us. We judge by skin color, ethnicity, accent, country of origin, level of schooling, or career. We may place value on how much money they have or what kind of house they live in. We sum them up by their clothes. We hate those who hate us. We might dislike those who think or believe or live differently from us.
Kind of a dog-eat-dog world-view, isn’t it? It is painful to see how much backstabbing and insecurity can come when people view others through this lens.
But in our verse for this week, Paul says that while we may have judged others through this “worldy” lens in the past, Christians should regard no one from this point of view anymore! Instead, we should view others through God’s point of view. Looking at people this way affects how we view (1) other Christians and (2) the whole world.
With a godly point of view…
1. We believe that God can change anyone.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
To see people through a godly point of view means that we believe that Jesus changes people. No one is too far gone to turn to God, and when someone chooses to accept Jesus as the Lord and Savior of their life, God truly washes them clean and gives them a new life.
Unfortunately, sometimes Christians judge other Christians, expecting that once they choose to believe in Jesus, they should be expected to clean up their act right away. We sometimes think that other Christians should know an unspoken check-list of how to act properly in church, what movies to watch, what songs to listen to, etc.
We may observe a sin in the life of another Christian and hold it against them. We will forever know that person as the woman who cheated on her husband, or the man who neglects his family for the sake of his career, never again pausing to consider that the person they are now may be very different from the person who committed that sin way back when.
But the truth is, being a Christian doesn’t mean you automatically become perfectly holy in every way. It doesn’t always mean we can painlessly give up sins and addictions in the blink of an eye (though sometimes that does happen).
That’s why church is a messy place: it’s a gathering of all kinds of people who aren’t perfect but who have all chosen to follow Christ. God calls us to trust that all of these imperfect people are actually changed people: that if we could see each other the way he sees us, we wouldn’t judge each other based on our outward appearances, but on the inward transformation he is doing (and has done) inside each and every one of us.
If we could see each other this way, we’d know that God has already made each of us into new creations through the saving work of Christ. And we’d also have patience with each other as Jesus slowly molds us to look more like him on the outside, day by day.
Secondly, with a godly view…
2. We believe that everyone needs Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 says “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
To view the world like God does means first and foremost, we view all people as treasured creations of God who are in need of Jesus’ saving love. How would your life be different if you viewed the world this way?
How would you react differently if someone cut in front of you in line at the grocery store? How would you treat other drivers on the road who annoy you? How would you talk to your co-workers?
To view the world in a godly way means we take serious the claims of Jesus: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus didn’t say that you get to God through Buddha. Through Islam. Through being a good person. Jesus claimed that he was the sole way to God. That through belief in his death as the payment for your sins & by accepting him as your Lord and Savior, you are made right with God.
This is what 2 Corinthians means when it says God reconciled the world to himself through Christ. God knew that there was no way that we can be “good” enough to attain his holy standard. God made a way to bring us back to him: through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. According to the Bible, this is the only way to get to God. And we can either accept that or reject it. God desires to be reconciled to all the people on earth, if they will choose him.
So, Christians, if we truly believe that everyone is in need of Jesus, we have to get serious. We must realize that we aren’t just trudging through life: we are missionaries out in the world. God gave us a job to do: reconcile people to him. Every person matters to God.
That person who cut in front of you matters to God, whether you are happy with them or not. That driver who is annoying you matters to God, whether you think he or she deserves a ticket or not. Your co-workers matter to God whether they make your workplace a living hell or not. Lost people matter to God. As our pastor at CCV, Todd Clark said, “God loves people you don’t like!”
So it’s time we set aside our petty differences (and even our well-justified dislike) and remember that there is something much bigger than us going on: there is a story of truth and eternal choices, there is a battle raging on for the souls of this world, there is a grand plan for the universe and we have a part to play in it as we try to help as many people as we can to know the love of Christ.
This week let’s strive to view other Christians and the world the way God does. Let us give each other grace, as we remember God can change anyone. And let us take seriously the mission that God has given us: to be God’s ambassadors to the lost – in our home, our workplace, our city, our world.
Questions for thought:
1. Be honest with yourself: do you most often view others through a worldly view or a godly view? Maybe you don’t know. Take note on your initial thoughts or reactions to the people you encounter this week. Do you most often judge by the world’s standards or God’s standards?
2. Have you ever judged (or are you currently judging) another Christian you know based on outward appearances? Do you actually know the facts of their situation, or where their heart is with God? Perhaps they do need some gentle nudging to abstain from a sin in their life, but only through the confines of a trusting relationship is that appropriate. Either choose to build a relationship with them (get to know their testimony, ask how God has changed them and find out how he is working on their heart right now), or get over it. Trust that God has made them a new creation and that he is doing far more in their life than you can even imagine.
3. Do you take Jesus’ claims seriously? Do you believe he is the only way to God? Does that claim make you uncomfortable? Why? If you had to choose between the two, which one is more important to you, truth or tolerance? The Bible claims there is one way to God, but it is a free gift to all, open to anyone who will receive it. It makes no difference who you are or what you’ve done. Christianity is different from other religions in that it doesn’t claim that we get to God through good works, but simply by accepting the free gift God gave us.
4. Do you view yourself as a missionary? Every day you encounter people who have not chosen to make Jesus their Lord & Savior. How will you choose to put aside your own feelings and show God’s love to those that you may dislike?