Sunday, March 11, 2012

From Where I Stand...

"Do you see that? Just on the horizon?" one woman asks the other. They are looking through binoculars off into the distance, engrossed in the view.

"I do! It is beautiful... Takes my breath away!" The other woman peers through her own binoculars certain that she too is sharing in her friend's vision.

It is only after they take the device from their eyes that they realize that they have been standing back to back and not side by side. Each had been gazing upon a different view and assuming the other was watching too.

It's called perspective and it colors every choice we make, every word we speak and every relationship we are involved in. It has little value in our existence, however, unless we can take a hard look around us and decide it doesn't make a hill of beans difference.

In the movie "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" there is a scene where Mr. Cruise's character needs to gain access to a remote location down a hallway with only one entrance and a guard posted at one end with an unobstructed view. I don't know if the device exists, but they used a computer that took into account the perspective of the guard and projected an image of the empty hallway on a screen as he should see it no matter where he turned his head. They took this screen and allowed the rendering to cover their actions behind it in true spy-savvy fashion. There was only one problem. With one guard the vision of what the hallway should look like was simple and the computer handled it with ease. When more than one person was thrust into the equation, however, the view became distorted and the whole perspective changed, ultimately falling into ruin when a flood of guards entered the station. The computer simply couldn't keep up with the different view points and it failed to present a unified vision.

Our perspectives and views of the world around us are varied and unique to us. We are influenced by our upbringing, our religious views, our political stances and the company we keep and while I could sit here and write a sweet little ditty about how we all should take this into account and love one another for who we are, it should ring hollow with you. What I really want to land on here is not quite that easy and tidy. I am going to make a mess in your head... deal with it!

See the thing about perspectives is we think they justify us. We think the world should stop and understand why we chose the path we did, why we are passionate about this or that. The world could care less about why you do what you do. You are a vapor in the wind and no one cares what you think. They care what you do. They care if you impact them... Because like you and me, they too think the world revolves around them. They are the guard in the hallway and they want only their perspective to matter.

So what do we do with all that? Do we chuck our perspective and stop giving a crap? Nope. You couldn't even if you really wanted to. No, you keep your perspective but you start taking into real account the actions of Christ. He didn't make excuses for anyone on the basis of their perspective, their upbringing, their social station or lack thereof. He unwaveringly told the truth.

If Christ had made excuses, the Pharisees would still be in power. If Christ had not thrown a hissy fit about personal space, the tables in the Temple would still be upright and doing a swimming profit! No, Christ didn't care about why someone was sinning - only that they were. He grieved not for the loss of someone's fortune, but for the loss of their soul. He told the truth in his short time among us and he didn't spare even His closest friends His sharp rebuke. Christ understood that making excuses for one's actions did nothing for the offender's state of salvation. It clouded the view, shrouded it in fog and left the soul wandering in the abyss of selfish pride.

You want to make a difference? Start by telling the truth. Don't hide behind your perspective. No one cares if you had a rough childhood, if you have served in the Peace Corps, if you lost everything in the crash... turn that into something we do care about. Tell yourself the truth about who you are. You are a sinful, short sighted, self-serving human being. If you can work with that, you have a real chance at succeeding. When we are honest about who we really are out here in this fallen world, our sphere of influence can broaden and impact so many more. No one wants to be led by someone who looks untouchable. We want to be led by someone who understands us, someone who has been there, done that and bought the tee-shirt. That is why we follow Christ.

He alone has withstood everything we have ever encountered, and come out on the other side with something valuable to say. He doesn't come to us pristine and finely dressed, with a mouth full of unmelted butter. Christ comes to you battered and bruised, bloody and scarred from the fight and says with clarity, "Follow me... I know the way." He got those wounds from you and me. From our ignorance and our pride, from our stubborn insistence to do it our way and yet, he continues to lead us. He doesn't tie us, hand to hand down a long line bound neatly together, and drag us into salvation. He asks us to follow Him willingly. He waits while we stray into parts unknown to us (but not to Him) and He rejoices when we return to follow. He is patient in the face of our rebellion and our excuses. Much more patient that we deserve.

You want to do something useful? Stop leaning on your excuses and your own perspective and take into account how Christ sees you. Would He care why you refuse to do as He has asked? Would He sit quietly and listen to the reasons you have strayed from His will yet again? Do you think He would excuse you because you have no resources? Think again! Christ would tell it like it is, call your sin a sin and tell you to get off your duff and do something useful with yourself. Yes, He would tell you that no matter how many times you fall, He will love you and that He forgives you. But He will also remind you that choices have consequences and that He expects better of you. Take Him at His word. Step out with what you do have, give of your meager self (or of you greater self), and make what you think matter less and what you do matter so much more. God has promised to equip us as we are called into His service, so there is no excuse for putting it off.

Step out today and be used by Christ. Bring Him glory and put aside your fears of looking incompetent. It isn't about us after all, it is all about HIM!