Standing on a precipice in Arizona, overlooking the Grand Canyon, I was suddenly miniscule in size and consequence. I felt like a little piece of dust in a vast desert. Layered colors blazed from the canyon walls speaking of times long past. I could not help but wonder at the immensity of the world, and the thought came to me that God could have carved this magnificent landscape with His little finger.
The influence a view like that can have on a person is amazing. For the remainder of the day after visiting that tremendous canyon I was humbled. It made me ponder the significance of what we choose to focus upon each day of our lives.
Much of the view we have of the world around us depends on our focus. It is so easy here in the USA to get caught up in chasing the American dream and forget what is of more importance. What do I choose to focus on? That is an important question for every Christian soul. Am I looking unto Christ, "The author and finisher of our faith" as the model to which I conform?
God offers a plethora of magnificent vistas. I become awe struck at His amazing creations; sunsets, mountain ranges, waterfalls, flower strewn meadows and such. These invoke a silent reverence in my soul as I imagine the power and splendor of our creator. Yet, there is another scene that astounds me much more. I see it as I peer into the very heart of God. What I see there is a satiating, indescribable love in its purest form. There is nothing on this earth that could be held up in juxtaposition with divine love for comparison, no words that could capture its enormity, or its beauty.
However, we live in the world, where this awesome love must now be displayed through us. It is a task that requires miraculous assistance. Maintaining this staggering view of unadulterated compassion and care is the only means I have found to share it. Yet, I fear that too many times my focus is on others.
Mankind is naturally bent towards being more concerned over what someone else is doing or saying. The fallen nature of us humanoids is good at judging others while ignoring self. But in our new nature, given by Christ, we are also given power over sin. Through God's Spirit within us we can be the over-comers that God dreams for us to be. The only means of being successful though, is remaining focused on the perfect model for our lives; Jesus the Son.
"For those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son." Romans 8:29
It is the sinful nature that is so adept at finding fault with another. It takes the spotlight off of me. Yet when I do that, I have strictly a horizontal view. Rather, to achieve a transformation into the likeness of the Son of God, we must think vertically, focusing our attention upwards to God, and then back down into our own hearts. We need that comparison to see our selves in the light of His glory. Oh how very humbling that view is.
Our adversary, the devil is a master of deception. One of his favorite tactics is to convince me that I'm doing really great spiritually, because hey; "I'm doing better than Joe slick over there!" There will always be someone I can compare myself to that will make me feel pretty good about where I am in my spiritual maturity. However, that is a false view. It is a trap, one that I know I have been snared in before and hope to never be again. That old sneaky snake is really crafty. He takes a prism that refracts attention and divides my focus. What he shows me is colorful to my old nature, catching my eyes, but what it leads to is only blackness. Talk about building a better mousetrap. He is a master builder of people traps.
True perfection in holiness and righteousness can only be viewed by looking at Jesus Christ, our awesome model. When we come into God's presence through prayer and bible study we see the goodness of God in all His magnificence and flawlessness. When His light shines upon us, it illuminates our imperfections and weaknesses. We must see the areas of our heart that need work and know what they are. This is a prerequisite for change. We see the problem, we address it by repenting, seeking God's forgiveness, and then we receive in return a spiritual blessing.
That is the transformation spoken of in Romans 12:2, where Paul writes; "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds".
King David writes, "Search me O God and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139: 23-24
Do I really want to use a defective model or blueprints that are all wrong to fashion my new life after? Should I maintain a horizontal view and be transformed into the image of someone here on earth, someone who is flawed? I believe most people would rather be changed into the beautiful likeness of Jesus. Merciful, holy and righteous, abounding in love, forgiveness and truth, that is the pattern that Christians strive to emulate. I think all would agree that none of us are perfect, so comparing ourselves to one another is just not acceptable if we hope to ever reach spiritual maturity.
When I keep my focus on my own walk with the Lord, I have a much better view, and am in the best position to encourage others to grow with me. Being humbled through the comparison of myself to the ultimate paradigm of righteousness also enables me to come alongside another person rather than elevating self to a position where I would be speaking down to them. In love, we hurt with them when they hurt, and we rejoice when they do as well. Speech flowing from a meek and humble spirit is easily accepted. Very few will accept advice or counsel from a Pharisaic, holier than thou type of attitude. After all, we are family; the family of God.
By keeping my outlook vertical, the horizontal view looks different. I begin to see those same "others" with love filled spiritual eyes. Instead of anger, envy and fear over another person's words or actions, I feel the hurting pangs of love for them. I greatly desire to share the peace of God with them, and eagerly hope to guide them to a safe haven in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I think everyone should visit the Grand Canyon some day. If they are not in a position to go there, we always have the most splendid view that satisfies completely; the heart of God. His heart is expressed through His Son Jesus and throughout the pages of the Bible. It's a beautiful view.