May 14, 2018
Weekly Reflection – The Gospel Lens
Do you see the world through a gospel lens?
“Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Galatians 1:3-5)
Last week’s Reflection introduced us to the concept of living our life while being aware of a lens through which we see the world.
This week we will continue that theme in the context of living life through what has been called “the Gospel lens.”
All of us view events through particular paradigms or lenses. If the lenses are accurate, the paradigm enhances our understanding and knowledge; if they are distorted, we sometimes make mistakes. In real life, there are always competing paradigms or lenses in our work, our village or tribe, between religions, indeed between cultures around the world, and even within the student body of NationsUniversity. The core gospel can provide a more complete and accurate framework within which all our life events, both individually and globally, can be better understood.
The fact is that our original default point of view, our default lenses are defective. We see the world through a point of view that has been corrupted by sin. Our lenses are defective. So what happens? We make decision after decision that seems logical and good based on what we see in front of us. But in reality, those decisions turn out to be harmful to us. This is what sin (i.e., the human condition) does all the time to us.
God’s plan has been revealed over time, as recorded in the Holy Scriptures. The Bible records man’s “fall” and our subsequent human condition, the Atonement effected through the Incarnation, our subsequent ability to live again in union with God, and the promise of eternity within that union. Most of us have heard this story so many times that we may not fully appreciate how deep and significant it is. Moreover, when encountering our day-to-day experiences and trials, we too often take off the clarifying “good news” gospel lens that these truths provide and then complain because the resulting distorted image does not seem correct.
It is time to throw those old lenses to the ground. I must direct my gaze upward to a holy God, to what He has done through his Son, and to his Spirit, who has a beautiful work to do in me. Preach the gospel to yourself! No one is more influential in your life than you are.
If we will view all of our experiences – big and small – in light of God’s overarching plan, we will experience understanding, optimism, and courage. Here are three ways to look at life through the lens of the “core gospel.”
- The “core gospel” helps us more clearly understand God’s principles and teachings. Once we grasp the overall plan, it is easier to understand and obey the commandments and principles laid out in the Bible. Without that larger clarifying paradigm/lens, commandments are too often seen as arbitrary rules or regulations which confine and restrict us. With the “gospel lens” in place, however, we see more clearly and come to understand that God’s commandments are designed to purify our souls in ways that permit us to become like Him.
- It also helps us respond more positively to the ups and downs of daily life. Without an understanding of the plan, even life’s smallest inconveniences can lead to deep discontent and grumbling. On the other hand, viewing life’s events through the gospel lens can change the entire nature of unpleasant events. We find joy in unexpected ways, and we discover the reason why God’s will is often called “the plan of salvation.”
- It increases our ability to act courageously when life’s challenges seem difficult, if not impossible. We will actually find joy in life’s challenges when we see them in the context of the larger “core gospel”. We will be able to meet even the most difficult challenges, even those that seem overwhelming. That is the way God wants it to be. What captures your idle thoughts? What fear seeps into your spare moments? Fight back with the gospel.
In today’s world, we are bombarded with so much information about so many things that we sometimes lose sight of what is most important. We become overly concerned with things that really don’t matter. To quote my 96-year-old mother-in-law who in recent years has said, “What we thought was important wasn’t.” We may even begin to doubt “the truth” that we hold dear. It is important at these times to remember the simple things that helped us develop our true lens and to trust that focusing through that lens will ensure that we stay on the right path.
Blessings and peace,
Source: This Reflection is largely taken from a campus devotional given by Kevin J. Worthen on January 9, 2018 in Utah. Edits are mine and may not reflect the views of Dr. Worthen or his original presentation.