Perspective is one of those funny things. Two people can be looking at the exact same thing, yet they each see something different.
Cast your mind back a few years ago and you might remember the 3D puzzle books that were popular. These books appeared to show just some bright colours and geometric shapes, yet if you had the right perspective you could actually see another image within. Now the thing was, for me I could never see the hidden image in any of these 3D puzzles. About 10 seconds after she would look at it, my wife would exclaim “Oh, there it is! It’s a sailing ship!” or something similar to that. I’d grab the book and ask her where it was, and time and time again I could only see the colours and shapes, not the sailing ship. My wife would “teach” me how to find it, tell me what I needed to do and offer all the help she could, yet to this day I have never seen one of these images within a 3D puzzle despite the fact that we were looking at the exact same thing.
I am inspired by the apostle Paul as a man who always kept things in perspective. I’m sure if they had 3D puzzle books nearly 2000 years ago then he would have been seeing all sorts of hidden pictures.
In 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 Paul had this to say:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
I wanted to concentrate on the phrase “light and momentary” as in this we really see two ways of looking at things. For Paul, his missionary journeys were anything but light and momentary,yet he kept a heavenly
perspective through everything he endured. Paul knew that whatever he was going through in this life, was but a mere hiccup in terms of all eternity. Have a look at how he maintains a heavenly perspective despite his circumstances, as he writes in 1 Corinthians 11:21-28:
Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger
from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
Now I’m not sure about you, but this list does not sound like something that was “light and momentary”. To me it reads like a journey that was hard, a journey that lasted a long time. I am exhausted just reading about them, imagine having gone through that in person. Yet Paul doesn’t see that, he has a different perspective than most. He doesn’t see what most people see with their eyes, because he is not looking with natural eyes. He is looking with spiritual eyes. He is not seeing things with his own eyes, rather through the eyes of the Lord.
So as we celebrate Christmas, as we remember the birth of Jesus, I want to encourage you to keep a heavenly perspective. Presents are fantastic and we all enjoy receiving them, yet they are not the reason we celebrate. Joining
together with family and friends at this time of year can be awesome (or for some can be challenging) but once again it is not the main thing. The same is true for public holidays, Christmas trees, blockbuster movies, Boxing Day sales and Test cricket. They are all associated with, or around December 25, and enjoyed by many people, yet they are not the reason we celebrate Christmas. Don’t allow those things to cloud your perspective this year, because Christmas is all about keeping our eyes on Jesus and all that his birth means, both now and for all of eternity.
Written by Wayne Hindson – Announcer on The Big Breakfast