It is often said that perception is 95% of reality. How we see things or view things often colors what is going on in our world and the world around us. What we see in life is really based on how we look at things.
A young couple moved into a new neighborhood and the next morning as they were eating breakfast the young woman saw her neighbor hanging her laundry on the line. As she looked at the woman's laundry the woman noticed it wasn't very clean, and she told her husband as much. Maybe she doesn't know how to do the laundry correctly she said. Maybe she needs better laundry soap. Her husband remained silent. Every time the neighbor hung her laundry on the line the woman would make comments. She clearly thought her neighbor did not know how to do laundry. Nearly a month went by and one morning as the woman and her husband ate breakfast the neighbor was once again hanging out her laundry. But this time the laundry was sparkling clean. The woman said look! She has finally learned how to do laundry correctly. Her husband replied, I got up early this morning and washed our windows.
It is all about how we see things. For instance, there are times in our lives when we might feel like we are walking alone. But the writer of Hebrews reminds us that “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2. In truth we are not alone. Many in faith have gone before us and this cloud refers to those referenced in chapter 11, which is a litany of the patriarchs and others in the Old Testament who were tested and kept the faith. They are not actually spectators watching us; but they are witnesses testifying to the truth of the faith. Throwing off that which hinders us allows us to move forward in the race marked out for us. And better yet, Jesus is the perfected or finisher of faith. That means He has already done what is necessary for us to be able to endure in our faith. He is our example and role model. Even facing the cross, He chose joy. In our own situations are we seeing joy or struggle, peace instead of chaos, hope in the face of hopelessness. It's all in how we see things.
Paul reminds us in Romans 12:2, ”And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The evil one is relentless in his pursuit of us. He tempts us with shiny and attractive things, things detrimental to our health and wellbeing and things that threaten our relationship with our Lord and Savior. Being transformed starts in our minds and hearts. A mind dedicated to things of the world will produce a life tossed back and forth by the currents of culture. But a mind dedicated to God's truth will produce a life that will stand the test of time. We can resist the temptations of our culture and the world by meditating on God's truth and letting the Holy Spirit guide and shape our thoughts and behaviors.
Part of our challenge is that many look at earth as their home. They cannot see beyond this life. Their perception is...this is all there is. But this is not our home. And our riches do not come from this world, contrary to what the media, friends, commercials tell us. When we fall prey to the demands of the world then we become conformed to it. But Jesus tells us in Luke 12:32-34, ”Do not be afraid little flock for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near, and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It is all in how we look at things. We can store up all kinds of things here on earth. But they will rot, wear out, break or get stolen. We will not have them forever as we might wish. And even if they might last, we cannot take them into the next life. Instead, we work to store up an eternal treasure by giving to others. God will provide everything we need. The world encourages us to buy, buy, buy. But the Lord encourages us to give, give, give. By doing so, we store up treasure that will last forever.
All of this sounds counter cultural, probably because it is. That is how the Lord works. He does not conform to the world. He has His own set of expectations and guidelines. They are for us. They are intended to set us apart as those who believe in Him and follow Him. We are called to live in this world and not be of this world. People may well perceive us as weird, different, or even touched. And we are. We have been touched by the Spirit. He dwells within as a guiding presence in our lives.
It is all in how we see things. It matters not how others see us. It is how we see Jesus in them, and treat them accordingly.
In His grip
Pastor Matt W