Years ago, one of our daughters was struggling in a high school math class. Employing a tutor to assist her, we came to discover something very important – she couldn’t easily distinguish between an addition and a division sign. Turns out, that’s important. You see, she had sustained a couple of concussions by then and we weren’t aware of how much her vision had been affected.
So off we went to correct the fuzzy vision. The awkward phoropter. The satisfying series of clicks. The wishing she remembered a breath mint. The ultimate delight of squint-free clarity and the wildly helpful ability to recognize mathematical operators.
When the eye doctor clicked that first lens into place, things were marginally clearer. With the next lens, a little bit sharper. Then finally, after all the relevant lenses were aligned in view, our daughter had the clarity to see things as they were. If we walked out, content with a prescription after the first click, we’d have left her vulnerable to continued error because she would have lacked the necessary clarity to engage her world insightfully.
In the same way, it is spiritually and relationally perilous to navigate current affairs, endure struggle and make decisions by looking through a solitary, biblical lens. The Bible is rich and comprehensive and there are always multiple, biblical principles that come to bear on any given situation – all of which need to be considered and heeded if we are to respond in ways that are wise and winsome.
So, how about a wee spiritual vision check? If we are Christians, we are likely viewing our current issues and interactions through a biblical lens of sorts, regardless of what stance we may take on them. But the question I’m suggesting we ask ourselves is whether we are viewing those situations with all the other necessary and critical lenses in place. Lenses like:
The Preference Lens
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Am I elevating my interests and preferences above those of the people around me, or am I willing to lay aside my rights to prioritize the well-being of others in how I exercise my choice & voice? Click.
The Purity Lens
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…”
Do I obscure the brilliance of my light through the smearing ugliness of grumbling and arguing, or do I emanate a pure radiance that our warped and wounded world can look to for direction and comfort? Click.
The Politeness Lens
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarrelling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”
Do people observe me quarrelling or would they find me too preoccupied with doing lovely things for others to have time for squabbling? Would they witness me speaking evil of others or would they observe me responding gently to everyone with perfect courtesy? Click.
The Peacemaking Lens
“I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility, gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Am I acting toward my fellow Christians in a way that is worthy of God’s calling on my life – gently, patiently and lovingly engaging them in a way that diligently protects the unity and peace of the Church, all the while humbly recognizing that it’s highly unlikely that I’m always right? Click.
The Priority Lens
“… in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
2 Cor. 5:19-20
Am I evaluating every word, action, attitude, tone, expression and response by how accurately they represent Jesus Christ to the world? Am I increasing the likelihood of folks being reconciled to God by the degree of Christ’s likeness they see reflected in me? Click.
The situations and decisions we face are ever changing, but they should all be viewed through all of these lenses, all of the time. Otherwise, we run the risk of dividing when we should be adding.