Look harder or you’ll miss it.
Disney recently released the trailer for the live-action adaptation of one of the greatest stories ever told, The Lion King. If you’ve ever heard me preach, then you know that I love to use The Lion King as an illustration in my sermons. The reason? Because it’s the best animated Disney film ever made. Period. End of discussion. No questions asked.
The trailer happened to come out just a few days before I was flying out to see a friend of mine who pastors an incredible church, and as God’s sovereignty would have it, The Lion King was one of the movies available to watch on my flight. Have I seen the movie 100 times? Yes. Did I watch again anyway? Yes.
My favorite scene is when Rafiki finds Simba years after he has run away from Pride Rock and his uncle, Scar. Simba tells Rafiki that his father died a long time ago, but Rafiki shocks Simba by saying, “Wrong, he’s alive. And I’ll show him to you!”
Rafiki leads Simba to a pool of water and says, “Look down there.” Simba stares into the water and only sees his reflection, but then Rafiki corrects Simba’s perspective by speaking to what he knows in his heart, not what he sees with his eyes, “Noooo. Look haaaarderrr.” And that’s when Simba sees his father’s reflection mixed in with his own and Rafiki says, “You see? He lives in yooouu.”
Admittedly, reluctantly I might add, I’ve always been a glass half empty guy. A cynic, borderline pessimist. I’ve often used the term realist as a means of justification for my pessimistic tendencies when it comes to my perspective. It something I’m actively trying to change. Why? Because perspective is powerful. It can take you out of the fight or give you the power to keep on fighting.
Sometimes I think we give the enemy too much credit. He certainly wreaks havoc in our lives and is at work in his own sadistic way, but what if we take ourselves out as much as the enemy takes us out?
What if our own inclination to jump to worst case scenarios is what keeps us from walking into the promises God has for us? What if own proclivity to see the glass half empty, life as terrible, this season as stupid, this chapter as catastrophic, is what keeps us from living the abundant life Christ invites us to participate in when he says in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
What is the abundant life? A life of perspective.
Jesus isn’t promising financial prosperity, cars, jets, and mansions. Especially seeing as He was poor Himself and had nowhere to lay His head, Matthew 8:20. He promises something greater. Eternal life, an abundance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. A life on earth as it is in Heaven, walking with God, talking with God, knowing God, and loving God. A life like Jesus described in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
It takes perspective to see that some people are so poor all they have is money. It takes perspective to see that material possessions can be destroyed, but no circumstance can take our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control if I am in Christ and His Spirit dwells within me. It takes perspective to see that it was a terrible day, not a terrible life. A hard season, but a beautiful story. An awful chapter, but an amazing book.
Alphonse Karr once said, “We can complain because roses have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” Perspective is everything. The day Jesus died was simultaneously the worst and greatest day in history. It looked like death, but it gave me life.
2 Corinthians 5:21, “He who knew no sin became sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.”
He was crucified like the common criminal. He looked like a fool. He had come promising, preaching, and teaching. Now here he was, dangling from a cross. It didn’t look like He could possibly be the Son of God. He seemed unwise, powerless.
But how could the wisdom of humans grasp what God had up His sleeve? How could humanity comprehend the power that would be on display three days later? We couldn’t. But again, perspective. When we truly understand that God’s ways and thoughts are beyond us, only then will we be able to shift our perspective into a position that fully trusts Him.
I’m not advocating that we live in a fairy-tale world with an ignorant mindset. I’m not suggesting in the least that we turn a blind eye to the struggles of those around us, dismiss the pain others experience, settle on being non-confrontational on issues that desperately need us to take action, or anything of the sort. Here is what I am saying though, some of us don’t live like Jesus has won.
There will be trouble that surrounds us, bad days and difficult seasons, but the power of perspective is that we can continue to press on and continue the fight, knowing that God is working in the midst of it all and that any hopelessness we experience cannot darken an empty tomb.
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