When having discussions about Christian living, one topic that often gets overlooked is perspective; how we see ourselves and the world around us. Many of us are so focused on our works and performance, that we miss the central aspect of our identity in Christ and how that should change our lenses.
This is actually integral to the Gospel, and living in your new identity in Christ – and the scriptures contain many examples of how our lenses (how we see and perceive ourselves and our circumstances), can have an effect on our entire life.
So today, and over the next studies, I would like to have a discussion about how our perceptions both reflect and affect our identity and life in Christ Jesus.
As we begin, we’re going to let the foundation with three separate examples in the scripture, of how the lenses of our perception, can have a huge effect on the direction of our life, and our ability or inability of receive from God; not because He isn’t generous (because He is, and indeed He has already given everything to us in Christ), but rather because through negative perceptions, we can actually refuse His gifts.
So let’s take a look at the first of these three examples. The scripture says that by the word of two or three witnesses is every matter established (2nd Corinthians 13:1), so here we start with the first of three different accounts of how having a negative perspective, can in-turn negatively affect your life. Starting with Abram, in Genesis 15:1-3:
“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward.
And Abram said, LORD God, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
And Abram said, Behold, to me you have given no seed: and, see, one born in my house is my heir.”
As we focus in on these verses here, we can see in verse one that God makes an amazing promise to Abram (and to us, by-the-way – 2nd Corinthians 1:20), where He says fear not, I am your shield, and your exceedingly great reward. Make no mistake about it my friend, that is an amazing and awesome promise!
When God is your shield, you can be sure that you’re safe and protected. And when God is your exceedingly great reward – you will never lack anything. So Abram just received a fantastic assurance from God.
However, what we notice in verse two, is that Abram’s lenses are not focused on God, or the promise of protection and provision that he just received, but rather Abram is focused on his own perceived lack.
Abram responds to God’s promise with a somewhat snide remark: what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
Now it’s kind of funny, Abram is so confused with his own perspective of lack that he doesn’t even realize what he is saying here, because the name Eliezer, means “My God will help”!
But notice that Abram is looking at something else, his lenses are skewed, and focused on the wrong thing. He gives himself away when he says in verse 2, “what will you give me seeing…” – and just what was it that Abram was seeing? What was it that he was looking at?
Was it God’s promise of protection? No.
Was it God’s Promise of provision? No.
Was it the fact that he just had God speak to him in a vision? Marveling at the amazing reality of what just happened? Nope.
Look at what he says: seeing I go childless.
His focus was on his lack, even though God had just promised to provide. And there are those who see nothing but the negative, even in the face of God’s promises. Negative thoughts and the reports of the world; their own circumstances dominate their perceptions.
So God responds to this, and we see the results in verses 4 through 6 – let’s read them now:
“And, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, This shall not be your heir; but he that shall come forth out of your own bowels shall be your heir.
And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if you be able to number them: and he said to him, So shall your seed be.
And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
Now this is very interesting! God responds to Abram and just plainly says “this shall not be your heir; but your heir will come from you.”
Then in verse 5, God brought Abram out, and directed his attention toward the sky and says tell the stars, if you are able to number them.
And then is verse 6 we can see that something changed… Abram believed God.
What changed from before? Earlier in Genesis 13:16, God had promised to make Abram’s seed as numerous as the dust of the ground, and as we read today, Abram had some trouble believing that… lenses were still skewed. But now God shows him the stars in the sky and says that your seed will be as numerous as the stars, and Abram believes.
So again, what’s going on here? What changed?
There are many theories surrounding this, but as I always like to say: Look at Jesus; see Him, and you will have your answer.
In Genesis 13, God promised Abram descendants, but here in Genesis 15, God promised Abram a son and a proper heir. One not associated with the dust of the ground (a picture of mankind, sin and mourning in scripture), but one from the heavens.
Regardless of what exactly God showed Abram up there in the starry sky, one thing is certain my friend, he saw a glimpse of Jesus Christ. As Psalms 19:1 clearly states, the heavens (that is the place of the stars) declares the glory of God. And Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory. (Hebrews 1:3)
It is seeing Jesus which caused the change of Abram’s lenses, and allowed his belief to flourish… and that belief was counted for righteousness.
Are you seeing the picture of Jesus here, my friend?
Today, if you are faced with circumstances that look bleak, and your lenses are skewed to self and the world; look to Jesus, let His glory retrain your lenses back onto Himself and His Promises for you, and as the title of this study says: Change Your Lenses, and you will Change Your Life.
Join me again next week, as we continue this topic, by looking at the example of the twelve spies, and we’re going to see some things in that famous account that we have never seen before.
I look forward to thriving with you again next week.