Proper Lenses"If from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul." – Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV
My husband is at the age where his eyesight is not what it once was. He is finding it necessary to use reading glasses to read his Bible, Kindle or even recipes. More than once he has picked up my glasses when his own wasn’t readily available. It never worked. He quickly discovered that he needed to look through the proper lenses.
When we look at God through improper lenses, our view becomes distorted. We see Him as something He is not. And then, sadly, our lives reflect that.
For years I saw God the Father as harsh…because my own father was. I thought God was always disappointed in me and that I would never be able to please Him, no matter how hard I tried. And oh, how I tried.
And because I saw God as harsh, I eventually became harsh myself. I was harsh on everyone around me, including myself. I called myself a Christian, but my life was a misrepresentation of the One I was claiming to follow.
Because I was viewing God through the lenses of my past experiences, I couldn’t possibly see Him for who He truly is, let alone portray Him accurately to a lost and dying world. I didn’t lead a single person to Christ because, seriously, who wants to follow a harsh God?
It took a very long time for me to realize that God wasn’t harsh—at least not in the way I was believing He was. Yes, God can be stern, but even when He is, it stems from His deep, abiding love for us. And that makes all the difference.
I have felt the sternness of God and it comes with no condemnation. And because I felt the sternness of my earthly father, I know the difference. I can now accept the sternness of my heavenly Father because I know it is for my own good and it comes with love on its heels.
Increasingly I am learning to make sure I’m viewing God with the proper lenses. My past experiences are one type of lens; my own selfish desires are another type of lens that can distort who God really is.
Whether we want to admit it or not, sometimes we view God the way we want Him to be, not the way He actually is. For example, I once believed that God would overlook my repeated, known sinning in a particular area, all in the name of grace. That was the God I wanted Him to be. It took a humbling by the Lord, followed by the natural consequences of my own sinful choices to wake me up to the God who is.
Yes, we serve a God of grace. But that grace is not given to the exclusion of the complete nature of God. This is precisely how the hyper-grace movement came to be. We simply cannot pull one aspect of God’s nature out of a hat and say that is the whole of who He is. God is that…and so much more. Like a multi-faceted diamond, God’s nature has many facets and yet is still one diamond.
Sometimes a lens of spiritual pride will cause us to see God, ourselves, and others improperly. Pride puts ourselves ahead of God; we put ourselves on the throne and may not even realize that’s what we’re doing. When it comes to others, we’re not really there for them in a selfless, compassionate way. Instead, we find fault with them; even if we’d never say anything out loud, there’s a subtle disapproval emanating from within.
Pride causes others—believers and unbelievers alike—to discredit anything we say or do that concerns God. Pride is the opposite of God’s nature and causes us to view Him improperly.
Another lens we may view God improperly through is the lens of ignorance. In this context, ignorance simply means “lack of knowledge or information.” We tend to reject what we don’t understand. This can lead to an improper biblical viewpoint. Deception can enter in and we may unknowingly deceive others. This is the stuff false teachings are made of.
2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV) says that we are to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Getting the Word of God into our hearts and minds is critical for being able to accurately share the nature of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our own improper lenses cause unbelievers to view God improperly as well. While they may have lenses of their own making, our inaccurate representation certainly doesn’t help, and in fact can do even more damage than their own lenses, because as believers we are then viewed as hypocrites.
To actually see something of the fullness of God’s nature is to revel in the prospect of perfect understanding and peace that He has determined to prepare for His creation. There are so many aspects to the nature of God that “if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV). When we do this, we can be assured that we are viewing God through His lenses and not our own.
Tammy Darling is the author of 1,400 published articles and two books, “And She Danced” and “While We Wait: Devotions for the Adopting Parent”. She writes from her home in rural Pennsylvania.