Graham Cooke, who has been my theological mentor from afar for the past five years, wrote the following:
“To be astonished at what God wants for me is the starting place for living in a place of awe about everything He wants to accomplish in and around my life. What would it look like to people if we lived as though we were amazingly impressed by the Lord? What if it is entirely possible to restore the modern day church back to a place of real astonishment about Jesus? What if our total astonishment about the Christ in us made us a fascinating focal point for the world to discover the wonder of Jesus?”
What if we saw everyone around us in the way that God sees us? The Apostle Paul speaks to this in 2 Corinthians 5:16 when he says, “Therefore, we, from now on, know no one according to the flesh; even though we knew Christ according to the flesh, but now we know Him no longer this way.
“…from now on, we recognize NO ONE according to the flesh…” There are some pretty incredible, revolutionary actually, implications in that statement. The word translated as “no one” is a very strong word. It speaks to the reality that no one is exempted from this group. Paul now views everyone, including himself and no matter whether a person is a follower of Christ or not, from a spiritual point of view.
That means that he views them as God views them because his view of others is molded by how he now sees and knows Christ. And how he sees Christ, that approach, is revealed in how he sees and treats himself and those around him.
Here’s the key: when we see ourselves as God sees us, we automatically start seeing others differently. How does God see us? Through His extreme, infinite, unknowable, and unsearchable love.
I have many times said that we cannot give what we do not possess or have the authority to give.
And that’s why, anytime I see harshness coming from those who claim the name of Jesus and to be an adopted son or daughter of God, I stop and ask myself three questions:
How does this person view God?
How does this person think God views him/her?
What has this person truly experienced from God?
I ask these questions because one cannot share what one has not experienced or has been given the authority to share.
As illustration of this, let me use an illustration that John the Apostle uses in his first letter. This is found in the 4th chapter. After talking about having known (experiential knowledge) and believed (because of the experience) the love God has for him and others, John says that the one abiding in love abides in God because God is love. And from that, God abides in that one.
But later on, John says the person who says he loves God but hates (in demonstration through words and actions) someone around him is a liar and God’s love is not in that person.
Why is what John says true? Because truly experiencing the love of God and abiding, being immersed, in that love changes a person at the core level, in the nature of a person. So, when a person demonstrates not love, that person is demonstrating that s/he has not truly experienced God’s love because what a person has truly experienced is what will be shared.
Jesus puts it quite succinctly. How are we to love those around us? In the same way we love ourselves. Why can we love ourselves? Because the reason we love God is because He first loved us and demonstrated that love in very real ways.
So, how do you see people around you?