Perspective Shift

As a pastor, year after year, I’ve watched followers of Jesus walk out the doors of the church on Sundays, and desperately try to consistently treat others the way God has treated them.

But inevitably, after a period of time…they always fail.  People ALWAYS seem to revert back to treating people the way they deserve to be treated, rather than how God has treated them…with grace, mercy, and love.  (Grace never comes natural.)

WHY?  Why can’t we seem to get this right?  Why is this so difficult for us?  Why do we allow our human instinct to get in the way of our supernatural calling?

Some would make the argument that it’s just human nature, and we’ll never get this right.  Well, that’s right AND wrong.  It IS just human nature, BUT we can get this right.  But it won’t come from trying harder.

Trying harder to be the hands and feet of Jesus always ends up in failure.  So what’s the answer.

I’m convinced we’ll NEVER consistently treat people the way God treats people, until we begin to see people the way God sees people.

Our paradigm is far more important than our performance.  Because our performance doesn’t affect our paradigm…BUT our paradigm (the lens in which we see things through) will ALWAYS affect our performance.

The way you see someone will ALWAYS determine how you treat them.  No matter how jacked up they are, or what mistakes they’ve made, if you see them like Jesus does, as lost sons and daughters, your PERSPECTIVE will change.

When someone makes a bad decision, and they break the law, our tendency is to say “throw the book at them, that’ll teach them.”  But when it’s our son or daughter that makes that same mistake, we SEE them differently, so we plead for leniency and mercy.

Maybe we need to stop asking God to make us His hands and His feet…instead, maybe we should start asking God to give us His eyes…because when we have his eyes, we’ll be MOVED with compassion, and naturally become His hands and feet.

When he SAW the crowds, he was moved with compassion towards them, because they were scattered, like sheep without a shepherd.  -Matthew 9:36 

So how do you do that?  How do you see the world through God’s eyes?  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a series of articles to talk about how to begin seeing people through the eyes of their Father.  If you’re interested, make sure to subscribe to get the latest.

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obama

After 12 hours of seeing responses to the State Of The Union, I feel the need to let the cat out of the bag regarding something…

I’m a follower of Jesus. That means I’m part of what the western world calls Evangelical Christianity.  I’m a fiscal conservative.  I’m pro-life.  I believe in a robust military and am a supporter of free-market capitalism.  I believe in limited and accountable welfare, and if that wasn’t enough to buy a willing ear, I’m also a supporter of the second amendment.  And here’s the crazy part…I still LOVE President Barack Obama.

See the very first thing I told you isn’t simply first, but it’s all-encompassing. I am a follower of Jesus.  That means I desire to follow the teachings of Jesus and his Church in every area of my life.  Yes, believe it or not, even in the way I approach political ideologies AND the way I converse with and speak about those who seek to represent or lead me in state and federal government.

This means I am seeking to follow the teachings of Jesus even when discussing someone who holds political office that I may or may not agree with regarding policy.

I don’t have a faith AND an approach to politics.  I have a faith that AFFECTS my approach to politics.  And my faith tells me that above all else, the most important thing I can do…is LOVE.

The practical way that love is expressed can be found in the thirteenth chapter of Corinthians.  Love is patient…it is kind.  It does not envy…nor is it proud.  It doesn’t boast.  It doesn’t dishonor others, and isn’t self-seeking.  It isn’t easily angered.  I can go on but I digress…

See, I’m called to love my fellow believers, AND to love my enemies.  I think that means I’m called to love EVERYONE…yes, even (or especially) our President…

Based on 1 Corinthians, I’m called to be “patient” with our President.  I’m called to be “kind” to our President.  I’m called to avoid “pride” when thinking of my differing opinions from our President.  I’m called to not boast when I believe our President has made a decision that has led to a negative outcome. I’m called to HONOR our President.  (We’ll get to that in a moment…)  And I’m called to be slow to anger with our President.

All because I’m called…above all else…to LOVE our President.  Because my allegiance to the teachings of my savior supersedes the allegiance to my political affiliation.

But to be honest…lately I feel like I’m in the minority.  I feel like those who bear the name of Jesus have allowed their party affiliation to overshadow their soul transformation.  And it’s sad.  To see those bearing the name of Jesus calling our President names like evil, liar, subhuman, etc…is disheartening to say the least…because I’m CONVINCED we can disagree with someone without being dishonorable.

The problem we currently face though, is it seems that many believers don’t mind dishonoring our current president.  Therein lies the problem.

Whether you like his decisions or not, we are called in the New Testament to HONOR those in authority over us.  Some would argue that doesn’t apply to someone making decisions they so vehemently and morally oppose.  But I would point your attention to 1 Peter 2:17:

“Honor everyone…love the brotherhood…fear God…and honor the emperor.”

Do you know who the emperor was Peter was referring to?  That would be a man by the name of Nero…one of the most evil and wicked tyrants in human history.  This guy not only MURDERED & MUTILATED countless innocent believers…he killed his own MOM.

And Peter instructs believers to HONOR even him.  Why?  Because the world takes notice when we respond to those we disagree with honor, because it’s so counter-reactive to how the rest of the world responds.  The early church spread like wildfire not because of their evangelistic acumen, but because of how they cared for, loved, and honored those who persecuted them.  And people wanted the ability to live like that.  People WANTED what the early church had…and I am saddened to think that after watching the vitriolic responses of believers to the SOTU, that is probably far from accurate today.

So how should we as believers who LOVE our country and want what’s best for it respond to those authorities we disagree with?  I can offer three appropriate responses.

PRAY:  Pour your heart and concern over our nation and it’s leadership out to God.  If He’s the one who allows those in authority to be there (Romans 13:1), then the BEST place to take our grievances is to Him.  That should be our first, and right response.

DISAGREE…WITHOUT DISHONORING:  Voice your concerns over issues…not people.  If you disagree with the policies of our current administration, voice those, and attempt to do something about them.  I’m not asking you to set aside your convictions.  In fact quite the contrary.  But don’t drag someone’s heart, character, and integrity through the mud in the process, no matter how much you question them internally.  Because one of the GREATEST detractors to real issues are personal jabs.  Let’s face our issues head on, with boldness and conviction, but maintain our obligation to honor those in authority over us.

FINALLY, LOVE:  Be patient and understanding with our President.  Speak kindly of our President.  Live out ALL the virtues of LOVE found in 1 Corinthians 13.  Because no matter how bad you may disagree with the president, if Jesus said to love your brothers…and your enemies, that certainly includes the President.  And we’re told exactly how to do that.

Look, at the end of the day…you won’t be held accountable for the decisions of this administration.  But you will be held accountable for how you respond to those decisions.  And ultimately, how we respond…THIS is how we change the world.

Shut Your Face

James, the BROTHER of Jesus had some incredibly strong words about the power of what comes out of our mouths.  Throughout human history, just about every major conflict there ever was started with one common denominator…words.  In fact, something seemingly so innocent such as our speech has the capacity to undermine every major goal, hope, or life dream you or I might ever have.

James goes as far as to say that the tongue is so powerful, it is IMPOSSIBLE to tame…

So if that’s true, how do we avoid being a victim of our lips?  How do we safeguard against such a powerful force in our life?  Maybe instead of trying to tame this beast…we should just avoid letting it out of it’s cage altogether…

#shutyourface