And by lens, I mean what belief system? We all have lenses. They’re created by how we perceive the world, what we consider just and how we think others should be treated.
There are a myriad of factors that create the lenses we view life through.
But how do they affect how we read the Bible?
When I was young, my lens filtered life through perfectionism…a sense that my worth was very much tied to how I performed. Life was a gigantic test and everything was graded. Sin meant failure.
I took to heart where Paul said, “Be perfect.” (Matt. 5:48)
And where Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
I read these as commands and mandates for living a worthy and pleasing life to God. But it became an impossible burden of trying hard, seeing some success and then failing when my self-control couldn’t hold back some bit of fleshliness.
And I’d have to start over every time I failed and try even harder. Shame and self-condemnation were always waiting with their relentless accusations.
Accusations barrage our minds with negativity when our focus is on our (and others’) behavior. This becomes a form of sin management and leads us into bondage, not freedom.
The bondage comes from looking at our stuff—–and our lives–—without knowing the heart of God.
When we read the Bible, but only see the impossible distance we have to go to become better Christians, we have missed the heart of God and are reading through a lens that is not ordained from heaven. It’s from the kingdom of darkness, because those lenses lead to bondage.
Sinners were drawn to Jesus which tells us there was no condemnation in his relationships with them (Rom. 8:1). Shame makes us hide, not embrace the truth teller.
And when we know the love that God has for us, we can love ourselves and love others. Even others that are different from us.
For instance, do we believe a person can be homosexual and a Christian? Does Jesus?
Do we have a system where we decide some sins are more forgivable than others?
We welcome back the repentant adulterer, but how do we treat the Christian homosexual who chooses abstinence?
Have we taken time to look at people through the lens of love, rather than through the behavior that offends us?
Why did the Pharisees hate Jesus so vehemently? Because they judged and they lacked love.
We are not the judge. That place belongs to God. Our mandate is to love through truth and grace. Not turn a blind eye to sin, but also not condemn the sinner.
I have some dear friends who have had to face some of these questions head on as their child navigates a path they wouldn’t have chosen for her.
In the process, the husband was in a position to minister to a homosexual Christian woman who has endured horrific rejection from church people. In a quiet moment, God told him, “You see her as dirty.”
That hit me strongly as I had to reevaluate my lens. How do I view people who have received salvation—–payment for their sins—–but are so very different from me?
Do I look at them through the Father’s heart? Through His amazing love?
There is a difference between accepting the person and condoning the behavior.
When we get our eyes off the behavior and see the value of the person, we’ll experience just how much God loves us and we’ll be unstoppable in the kingdom.
Father, I want to be a vessel of Your love. Please change my lens so I see as You do, think as You think and feel as You feel. Show me in my heart where I’ve considered others “dirty” because I haven’t struggled the way they struggle. Increase my compassion so I can walk in the footsteps of Jesus. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Lens photo via Pixabay