Seeking God’s Perspective
Life can be so confusing. Never in the history of man has a generation been so flooded with information and hugely diverse views on just about every topic. We are left to sort out what to embrace and what to discard.
Just think of all the topics that have divided our society over this past year. Those in the world, without God, must be utterly confused about what is right or wrong. It leaves believers observing a world like that of ancient Nineveh, where God declared that there were 120,000 people who “cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand.” (Jonah 4:11).
That has an eerie ring to it as we look at the moral collapse around us. But this should never be descriptive of God’s people. We have been uniquely trained to find answers to the puzzles of our lives by seeking the only true wisdom—God’s perspective. When we search the Scriptures, we find the clarity that the world seeks but doesn’t find, an outlook that lifts us beyond the human mind’s reasoning to that of the Divine.
Both the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel struggled with the message of God that they were to carry to the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The last hope for the House of Israel was for those in Jerusalem and Judea to repent and seek God. The details of the coming pestilence, famine, starvation and ultimate collapse must have been overwhelming to these prophets.
Knowing that even the temple was about to be destroyed and the throne of David vacated would have been a difficult message to accept. How could it be good to have God’s chosen people receive such a judgment? Would this not bring painful rebuke to God and Israel in the sight of the surrounding nations?
God wasn’t destroying His people; He was creating a means of saving them!
Rather than dismissing the concerns of the two prophets, our long-suffering God took the time to help Jeremiah and Ezekiel see what He saw. Jeremiah was to see God’s perspective by the countless persecutions he would endure. His own family in Anathoth would turn on him (Jer 11:23). He would be lowered into the mire and barely kept alive. Jeremiah would know, at a very personal level, the corruption and ungodliness of that generation.
The manner of revelation was different for Ezekiel. As he sat safely by the river of Chebar, near Babylon, he would see remarkable visions. Initially, he was so upset by the message of God’s pending judgment that he sat for a week at the river of Chebar.
The next vision, recorded for us in Ezekiel 8, provided him with the righteous perspective of God. Right inside the temple, in the area where the priests entered, was an idol! There were secret worship services of detestable things and idols, led by men like Jaazaniah, a scribe! Their hearts declared that God could not see in the “dark chambers.” There was sun worship in the temple court and women weeping for Tammuz. Ezekiel, having seen what God saw, understood the righteousness of God in His judgments.
When Jeremiah and Ezekiel saw what God saw, their perspective changed forever, and they were ready for the work ahead. The fundamental message they both needed to learn was that God wasn’t destroying His people; He was creating a means of saving them!
In our modern age we, too, strive to understand God’s perspective. It is often quite different than how we would see things through mortal eyes. When we discover God’s perspective through the Scriptures, it frees us from the limited and deceiving ways we can see things, and it takes us to a different level of consciousness.
The world around us judges issues on how they appeal to the flesh or what seems right according to one’s perceptions. This is a unique challenge before us. Whatever the issue, our job is to go to the Scriptures and discover the principles of what God sees as being right or wrong. This has been a challenge for all generations, who faced unique challenges to their faith and belief.
Today, we frequently face significant challenges for finding God’s will. How does God view the issues of violence and abuse that occur across the world? How does He view the kingdoms of men and participation by believers in those kingdoms? How does God view the moral and sexual practices that are common around us, and what would He expect of us today? The list goes on and on.
I wonder if we could untangle much of the conflict and separation that we currently experience if we would just take the time to together explore God’s perspective about the challenges facing us? How does He view the issues before us?
Let’s take a couple of pressing issues today and see if we can find God’s perspective. Let’s start with one that has been around for quite a while—how we dress for Memorial Service. Never has this issue been tested more than the past 18 months, as we participated in online services!
To be honest, the expectations for one’s apparel and grooming at worship services have been changing for many years. Some feel that what one wears to meeting reflects respect and humility to God, arguing that one would certainly dress in their best clothes to go to see a dignitary. Others argue that clothing has never been a measure of one’s humility and respect and that we have turned it into a “thing” by our traditions and culture.
So, how do we get God’s perspective about what we wear and how we are groomed? Surely, our God is not the least impressed with our apparel (Jas 2:1-5; Acts 10:34). God’s righteous perspective is not concerned about fashion but about what is going on inside our minds. Is what we are wearing making a statement or drawing attention to us? Is it done out of rebelliousness? Is it done to impress? Is it done with the best interest of our brother and sister in mind?
God’s perspective about this issue can be found in Paul’s diagnosis of the concern of eating meat offered to idols. There was nothing inherently wrong with eating meat offered to idols—unless it became a spiritual problem for one’s brother. Paul concluded, “For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves.” (Rom 14:7 NLT).
Unless it truly represents an offense to Christ, we should not insist on our own preferences.
If our dress and grooming is a spiritual obstacle for our brother, then the perspective we must embrace is that the needs of our brother are superior to ours. That is completely opposed to the thinking of the flesh, but it is the Divine perspective. The character of selflessness was demonstrated for us by our Lord.
It is quite okay to wear casual clothing to meeting, assuming it does not represent a rebellious attitude in the face of objection. On the other hand, it is quite easy to insist that one’s personal tradition is right and that others should be compliant to it. That again misses the Divine perspective of living for others. Any time we feel our personal rights have been abused, that’s a good time to pause and consider the perspective of God.
The Lord Jesus Christ never taught us to live in a way where we demanded our rights. Rather, we are taught to avoid “strife and vainglory” by having “lowliness of mind.” (Phil 2:3). So, we can find a principle here to allow us to govern our own behavior. Unless it truly represents an offense to Christ, we should not insist on our own preferences.
Seek peace and accommodation.
Let’s look at another issue we are currently facing. Ecclesias have been encountering difficult decisions when they physically return to ecclesial halls. What should be done about vaccinations, wearing of masks and accommodation of the needs of others? Some ecclesias have had a seamless return to their worship in their meeting place, but others have struggled with the transition.
Do the Scriptures address vaccinations? Our community long ago concluded that the Scriptures do not address this issue (see Vaccinations and Obedience to the Truth, Tidings, December 2020). Vaccinations are a modern phenomenon. Unless we are required to be vaccinated by the authorities, we have the freedom to make our own decisions.
However, such decisions are not made in a vacuum, and there may be consequences for ourselves, our loved ones and our ecclesia. On the issue of wearing masks inside our enclosed buildings, where it is required by law authorities, there should be no debate. It is not a law that opposes the laws of our Lord, and therefore the clear instruction in the Scriptures is to be subject to it. (Titus 3:1).
In areas where masks are not mandated, but the ecclesia has requested its members to comply, submission to the needs of our brothers and sisters is essential. Our decision to comply with the laws of the land, and the requests of our brethren, is a demonstration of our commitment to following the way of the cross.
God wants us to submit “to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.” (1 Pet 2:13). As for accommodation of the needs of our brothers and sisters, far be it from any of us to behave in such a way that would make our brothers or sisters feel uncomfortable to come to meeting.
These practical, day-to-day decisions are what living the Truth is all about.
Committing to the consistent practice of seeking and applying God’s perspective is the only conduit for believers to find peace and harmony. It detangles us from the invisible, sickening poison of world philosophies (2 Pet 2:20) and proclaims righteous thinking. These practical, day-to-day decisions are what living the Truth is all about.
In the long-standing issues before us, which seem to be without resolve for decades or more, perhaps a reassessment of God’s perspective is overdue? Our Lord walks among the candlesticks, and we know that he is active in our personal lives as well as our community.
The ecclesias have never been “ours.” They have always been the Lord’s. We can know with certainty that he and his angels will direct our steps toward righteousness if we but trust in his sovereignty. That is God’s perspective for us to live by.