Finding God’s Perspective

We’ve all heard the story of the blind men who encountered an elephant. They had never seen an elephant and wondered what it might be like. Each of the men “explored” a different part of the creature to determine what this animal was. The first blind man touched the leg and proclaimed, “It is like a pillar!” The second man located the tail and determined, “It is like a rope!” The third touched the side of the elephant and was sure it was like a wall. Likewise, the fourth felt the trunk and stated, “No, it is like the heavy branch of a tree.” The fifth touched the ear and decided it was like a large hand fan, and the sixth felt the tusk and asserted, “It is like a solid pipe.” The men argued for some time as to which was right, until another, a sighted man, came along. He listened to their wrangling for a while until he finally spoke up. “You are all right, you see. You each touched a different part of the same animal.”
Perspective, or the lack of it, has been the cause of many broken relationships and broken lives. Without a proper perspective we cannot see the proverbial forest for the trees. The blind men’s perspective was limited to what they first experienced with their hands when approaching the elephant. They were each so sure they had found the truth that they stopped looking and argued with one another. We, on the other hand, each have our own perspective of life and truth, often based on our experiences, and that perspective limits our growth and constrains our ability to find peace with others.
One of the most important perspectives we need to consider is God’s perspective. God states through Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV). Most of the trouble Jesus had with the religious leaders came back to this idea, that they had a different perspective and didn’t understand Jesus’ thoughts. They had flat thinking: this is the rule and so that is what we will do. However, Jesus was thinking with an eternal, heavenly perspective, seeing what good he could do when he healed the lame man on the Sabbath, etc.
Where in your life are you being held back by a narrow perspective? The point is not to ignore what you know to be true, or to turn away from Scripture because you want a broader perspective. That is not my suggestion in any way! However, there are times when we must examine our lives, our ideas, our perspectives, to see if we are truly looking at the individual trees instead of stepping back to see the forest.
Paul and Barnabas had such a situation. Mark had accompanied them on a previous journey but had left them when the going got too rough. Now, preparing to embark on a second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take Mark once again, but Paul refused. This disagreement was so profound that the pair split up, with Paul and another partner going one way, and Barnabas and Mark going another. Mark was older and able to continue on the journey this time. However, Paul’s limited perspective concerning Mark split up the missionary team.
Paul may have learned his lesson before writing the letter to the Romans, as he states, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited (Romans 12:16). He goes on to state, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (verse 18).
I’m sure if Paul looked at the church today, with all of our arguments, posturing, and theological differences, he would have something strong to say. But instead, each of us has felt a different part of the elephant and, therefore, is determined that our approach to faith is the only perspective that exists. It is time for the church universal to be so, and for the people inside each of its partitions to learn to love one another and to learn from one another.
I’m not asking you to forego your theological distinctives but, rather, to find a place of peace with your brothers and sisters in faith, with your family members, with your neighbors, where God can bring you together. Step back from that tree that you have been examining to catch the wonder of the forest. Step back from your plans and ideas to be able to see God’s plans and ideas and the wonder of His creation and inspiration in those who call on His name.
Blessings!

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