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The Jesus hunt for perspective
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The Jesus hunt for perspective-
I have had several discussion/arguments with several atheistic/agnostic types online over the years. In these, I often try to make the point to them that usually, the reason that they can't , or won't see the presence of God around them, in their world or in their lives, is because they can't, or won't see the possibility of God to even exist. In short, it is a matter of their perspective, or Worldview.
In the spirit of the old adage, "The more things change, the more they stay the same", or the famous verse from King Solomon that says that there is nothing new under the sun, I will make the point that even Jesus himself talked about this very worldview/perspective idea quite a bit. How many times did He ask His Disciples "What about you, who do YOU say that I am?". He asked this of His Disciples, the ones who, you would think, would have had their own perspectives and worldviews greatly rocked, shaped or shaken. This, by them personally having witnessed hundreds, if not thousands of miraculous things performed right there, in front of their eyes, by Jesus. The fact that Jesus still had to ask them something like, " Who do you say that I am?", What might this be telling us? Is it speaking VOLUMES to us? Could it be telling us much about the nature of God? And the nature of man? And even what Jesus knew then, and still knows today about how very fickle our own human perspectives can be. Perhaps this fickleness can also be illustrated by the Israelites of the Exodus, who personally witnessed the miracles of their God when HE led then out of Egypt, and how quickly it was that their perspective of disbelief in HIM set upon them.
When the chief priests asked Jesus "Tell us by what authority You are doing these things. Or, who is the one who gave You this authority?"*
What did Jesus counter their question with?
He wanted to know what exactly their perspective was in regards to their beliefs on WHERE exactly John the Baptist's authority came from. He KNEW that THIS very thing would dictate whether he was wasting His own breath or not. Again, this, he asked to some people who I am quite sure, ALSO personally witnessed many of the miraculous things that Jesus did. Jesus' reply was doing so much more than just rebelliously sticking it to the scribes by not giving an answer to them about His authority. He was exposing that universal Truth in regards to the importance of our perspective. And, putting it into the "record" for all of His future disciples.
On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him, and they spoke, saying to Him, "Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?" Jesus answered and said to them, "I will also ask you a question, and you tell Me: Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?" They reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say, 'Why did you not believe him?' But if we say, 'From men,' all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet." So they answered that they did not know where it came from. And Jesus said to them, "Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things."
Luke 20:1-8 NASB
Another interesting aspect of this "non answer" to Jesus and from Jesus, to the scribes and high priests , is that their own perspective was that they were too afraid to answer the question because of a fear of the people around them (as opposed to a fear of the God before them) or by their own preconceived notions about God, and the coming Messiah ( that they were expecting to show up) , and their own attempts to deceive Jesus and themselves.
This idea that our belief and hope in Him begins with our own perspectives is even solidified with the following verse, where Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God starts right here, right now and through us and out of us through our faith in HIM.
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Luke 17-21 KJV
Of course, the great "perspective adjuster" and trainer is known to us as The Bible. But, I can just hear it now....many agnostic/atheistic types saying something like "Well Doug, you are just using some kind of empty circular reasoning, or even some self fulfilling prophecy to make your point about believing in your god.". It may very well be a sort of circular reasoning, but it most assuredly is not "empty". Anyone who says this, has quite simply NOT studied the Bible very much.
It IS also, God's very own "Self fulfilling prophecy". We, being created in God's image, are served quite well by imitating this kind of self fulfilling prophecy that God's manual for us has modeled to us over and over through the centuries, with the foreshadowing and continual playing out of His redemptive power "pattern" being woven in it throughout the ages. The fact of His People living it and writing it all down throughout the centuries is breathtakingly unfathomable and undeniable. This repeating redemptive pattern most importantly being played out , ultimately in the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah, as put forth in the Gospels. The redemption of mankind, for example is foreshadowed by Psalm 22, some thousand plus years earlier, to name just ONE of the thousands of remarkable, recurring patterns in the great "perspective adjuster". The Lord stands at our door and knocks. Will we let him in? To begin in us this great perspective adjustment.
In this light, here's a visual exercise for an atheist to try out:. First, visualize that circle of this alleged circular reasoning and insert your whole being right in the center of it. Now, visualize juxtaposing over that circle, God's self-fulfilling prophecy of the cross. Now, from THAT perspective, if you look up just a little bit, you just might find yourself right in the cross hairs of the Lord.
Praise be to the perfect, Righteous and Loving Lord.
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