In 1917, Albert Einstein, who was on the edge of man’s current knowledge of the physical universe, developed the Theory of General Relativity. His models and equations predicted that the universe was either contracting or expanding.
The implications of his equations didn’t sit well with Einstein. So, he manipulated the equations in order to get the result he wanted: a ‘static’ or non-moving universe. It wasn’t until Einstein peered through the telescope of Edwin Hubble that his entire perspective changed in an instant. The universe was indeed expanding! Einstein would later refer to this as his “greatest blunder.”
Similarly, do we commit a great blunder by not seeing life with an eternal perspective? Are we missing out on the way God has intended us to live our lives because the lens by which we view the world, particularly the people in it, is rather short-sighted?
The first question we must ask is, “How does God view people?” In any attempt to figure out God’s view on something, we must always journey to His Word.
The fourth and fifth chapters of 2 Corinthians are strung together by a series of ‘therefore’ statements that link the apostle Paul’s ideas together all culminating in 5:17.
Starting in 4:17, Paul says, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient [temporary] but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Continuing on a little further in 5:11 Paul says, “what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.”
What we are to God is therefore dependent on “what is in the heart” (vs. 12). Here lies Paul’s main idea and why he is able to say, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.” (vs. 16a)
There are two types of people in the world: those who are “in Christ”, and those who are “in the flesh”.
The result of faith in Christ is that we are united to Him. Being united to Jesus in His death and His resurrection is the reason Paul can finally say in 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away: behold, the new has come.”
Imagine a cup of coffee. Now imagine pouring sugar into that cup. What happens to the sugar if I drink the coffee? What happens to the sugar if I pour out the coffee?
In the same way, when I become united to Christ by faith, what happens to Christ happens to me, and vice versa. This is how we ought to view our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ: as those whom Christ has laid his life down for and has united to himself.
In the Flesh
How then should we view those who are not believers? In the remaining verses of chapter 5, Paul proposes that just as God sent Christ into the world to reconcile us to Himself, so now He is sending us into the world to reconcile unbelievers to Christ. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ” (vs. 20); “Thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named” (Rom. 15:20).
Those who don’t know Christ are headed toward eternity separated from life, separated from love, separated from Christ, just like we all were.
Do we, as ambassadors, love those around us enough to speak to them the good news?
Now we must ask ourselves, “Is this how I view people?” To change our perspective we can:
1. Pray that God would give us eternal perspective.
2. Proclaim the Gospel to those who are lost.
Only these two things will help us view others with an eternal perspective. Let us all then, replace the current lenses we’re viewing those around us through with God’s lenses! Let us peer into the kaleidoscope of joy Christ is offering us and by doing so, learn to love one another as Christ loves us.
Discuss these questions with a friend or spiritual leader to help apply today's reading:
What sort of lenses do you tend to view people through?
What would be some dangers of not having an eternal perspective? In your life? In your friend group? In your church? In the whole body of Christ?
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