"Oh, no!" Her hazel eyes twinkled between the curly locks as she feigned surprise like only a two-year-old can. My daughter's pudgy fingers tightened around the plastic star and vainly shoved it at the oval hole on the toy before her. Once. Twice. Still no luck. The triangular hole was next; her usually graceful brow furrowed intently. A corner of the star fit! Now in the circle. Still only a corner. "Oh, no!" she wailed again, this time dropping the star with an exasperated sigh as if deeming the situation hopeless. No matter how she tried, she simply could not fit that troublesome star into the selected holes. Frankly, I felt her pain.
Yet I find it difficult to feel too proud of myself for being able to find the proper shape on her toy. I know I have the same problem. I know I often struggle to do the same thing — with a Christian worldview. As teachers, parents, and Christians, no matter how hard we try, we still seem to struggle to fit that troublesome worldview into our selected areas of life. But like my naïve daughter's frustration over mismatched pieces, we miss the whole point. A worldview cannot be something we try to incorporate into our lives. According to the Bible, Christ is our worldview. He is not something we incorporate into our lives. He must be our life.
We could hardly imagine former Army General Tommy Franks responding to a command from President Bush with a dismissive, "I'll try to fit it into what I'm already planning, if it works out, that is." Of course not. A military officer embraces whatever viewpoint he is commanded to embrace. Only after having adopted his commander's mindset will he attempt to incorporate his own thinking within that commanded context. Only then can he hope to win the war, by first arming himself with his commander's viewpoint.
It is no coincidence then that the Apostle Peter instructs us to arm ourselves with our Commander's viewpoint. "Since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same mind … that he no longer should live the rest of his time for the lusts of men, but for the will of God" (1 Pet. 4:1, 2). Our war is real, our perspective crucial to success. The only successful strategy to change our culture for Christ is to prepare for battle by adopting one way of thinking-His. Like Mowgli of The Jungle Book fame, we need to not only walk like Him and talk like Him but also think like Him. Only then can we acquire the worldview so crucial to our success.
Just how crucial is that correct perspective? Recently, while visiting with friends on their front lawn, I saw them place a broken lawnmower on their lawn to be picked up as garbage. The mower looked old, beat-up, with no handle. Within minutes, a neighbor strolled over, inspected the mower, and claimed it as his own. Truly, one man's trash is another man's treasure. Behold the power of perspective! Likewise, on a grander scale, Satan thought he had destroyed any hopes of a heavenly kingdom when Christ suffered on the cross, but the rebel had the wrong perspective. Viewed from our self-centered, sinful eyes? Dismal defeat. Viewed from Christ's perspective from atop the cross? Victory! Behold the power of perspective.
But what does Christ's perspective look like? Peter minces no words in his marching memo: The worldview of Christ is the perspective of a servant — servant leadership. He became the model of a servant by submitting Himself to wash His followers' feet, suffer as a man, and die in their place. But what impelled Him to kneel was not a defeatist but a victorious worldview. "[He] has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him" (1 Pet. 3:22). Leadership guru John Maxwell calls it the Law of Sacrifice: "A leader must give up to go up." Jesus certainly did both, but the sacrifice came first. He acquired the perspective of a servant with His eye on the success of His vision.
Peter notes well that to sustain His victorious perspective, Jesus made a conscious decision. Give up what I want; embrace what God wants. The decision is simple. Living by it is hard work. However, success does not happen in a day. It is determined by choices we make every day. Thus if we fail to consciously start every day with a beggar's humble way of thinking, we are prone to feed our desires rather than God's version of reality. When our desires color our perspective, our world becomes jaundiced and disease-ridden, full of problems with no hope of solutions.
Once there was a preacher who lost this servant perspective. His nation had once been a bastion of truth where God's name echoed in every hall. But because his friends and neighbors had forgotten God, the threat of judgment hung over the land like a pall. The preacher cried to God, accusing Him of neglect. God answered: I have not forgotten. I am raising a wicked nation to destroy you. At this news, the preacher balked, questioning the integrity of God's plan. But God lovingly revealed to him that the big picture would result in the restoration of the name of God in that nation. What Habakkuk, this hopeless preacher, finally realized was that he needed to acquire God's perspective. "Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls — yet I will rejoice in the Lord!"(Hab. 3:17, 18). He needed to see with the eyes of faith. He needed to see through the eyes of Christ.
So how can we acquire Christ's perspective? A favorite ploy of natives in popular tourist locations is to respond to direction requests with the solemn reply, "You can't get there from here." Many tourists no doubt respond with a puzzled and confused, "Oh." Of course, the humor arises from the fact that we can always get anywhere from anywhere! Given enough time and resources, if the place can be gotten to, we can get there from where we are. And if the power that raised Jesus from the dead is supplying our resources, we have no excuse not to get to where our perspective needs to be. In Christ, we can get there from here!
- Humble yourself. Peter clearly instructs us to put on the same humble mindset that directed Christ to success. Paul commands us to submit ourselves to one another. The Greek word he uses, hupotasso, casts an even more vivid image. It is the image of a general ranking himself under a private, a president considering the janitor as being more important than himself, a father deciding that his children and family come before his own desires. To hupotasso yourself is to consider yourself under another in order of importance. So we can begin developing the correct worldview by daily placing our perspective under Christ's perspective, crucifying our own desires, and considering His perspective to be the only one worth acquiring.
Such a move of humility would seem foolishness from man's finite perspective. Yet Scripture clearly maps a paradox designed to bring greater glory to God. Wait in order to move. Give up in order to gain. Lose it in order to find it. Of one thing we can be assured, God shows favor to those whose way of thinking is totally committed to Him while He vehemently opposes those relying on their own perspective. "For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous … But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil" (1 Pet. 3:12).
- Set aside your own agenda. Bottom line: God created us to advance His agenda not ours. His first command to Adam was to subdue and have dominion over the earth on God's behalf. Like Christopher Columbus, Adam was to plant the flag of his benefactor on every piece of new soil he encountered. Too often we talk about a Christian perspective as if there were some other valid viewpoint to be considered. But God's agenda is infallible; there can be no legitimate competition. As teachers and parents, we must ever be reminding ourselves that it's not about us, not about what we want for our children, or even what our children desire. It's about God's agenda.
- Get to know God. All knowledge belongs to and comes from God. As His finite creatures, we may acquire it only as He chooses to reveal it to us. He created us to understand His knowledge in a relationship with Him. Consequently, the more we know Him, the more we come to reverence and fear Him. The more we fear Him, the more we are drawn to Him as servants seeking mercy and grace. Apart from that relationship, our understanding must be skewed. "In Him we live and move and have our being" (Ac. 17:28). If we are not in Him, we have an intellectual short circuit. But if we are in Him, we have been given the authority to be called the children of God; we are joint heirs with Christ, capable of sharing a correct, though not infinite, understanding of the Creator's reality. The implication is clear: If you are not in Him, you cannot truly know anything.
- See with the eyes of faith. Moses understood how faith determines perspective. He had his share of bad breaks: taken from his family as an infant, exiled as a fugitive from Egypt, rejected by his own people, stuck in a desert for forty years on his own, then forty years with a bunch of whining Israelites. But he accomplished nearly his entire mission because "he endured as seeing Him who is invisible" (Heb. 11:27). Moses saw through the eyes of faith. The only reason Moses failed to enter the Promised Land was that, just for a moment, he allowed his own desires to determine his perspective rather than his faith in God's vision. He foolishly tried to squeeze God's perspective into Moses' perspective by obediently producing water for the thirsty people, but doing it his own way.
The just shall live by faith. Too often we narrow this profound truth to our justification, with many kudos to Martin Luther for his insight. But faith is for all of life. Yes, the just person is one who has been legally declared righteous by the faith God has gifted to Him. But there is more. We are to live daily in an attitude of faith. We are to be sustained, inspired, and empowered by it. Everything we see must be viewed through the eyes of faith. Habakkuk finally learned this truth when he concluded, "Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vine … yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will joy in the God of my salvation." How? Habakkuk saw with the eyes in his heart not the eyes in his head. The eyes of man may deceive you; the eyes of faith will instruct and inspire you.