My daughter is a photographer. She’s a young, amateur, budding photographer, but a photographer none the less.
One of the things that I’ve learned from my daughter recently is that owning a camera and taking pictures does not make someone a photographer. Recently, on a trip to visit family in the Atlanta area, we went to the World of Coca-Cola, the home of all things sweet and refreshing.
At one point during our trip, we were wandering around the gift shop, and I had Miranda’s camera. I saw a line of Coke bottles that I thought looked interesting. So, I snapped a picture. Later, when Miranda had her camera, I pointed the bottles out to her, and she snapped a picture of them also.
When we downloaded the images, there was a huge difference between my picture and her picture. Both pictures included the same subjects, and both were were in focus. (Yes, believe it or not, my picture was in focus.) So, why was there such a huge difference between the two pictures?
Perspective. I looked at the bottles and took a picture of a line of bottles. But, she looked at the bottles with the eye of a photographer, and her picture looked like more than a line of bottles. It was art. (The thumbnail image for this post is my daughter’s picture, and, no, I am not going to show you my picture. You can see a larger version of her picture by clicking here.)
And, because of her picture, I was able to see those bottles from a new perspective. It was amazing!
Did you know that we all look at the world from different perspectives? It’s true. Many, many things affect how we look at the world around us. Our background, education, personality, location, etc. all affect our perspective on the world – how we look at the people, places, and things around us. Yes, Scripture and the indwelling Holy Spirit can affect our perspective as well.
Now, let’s apply this idea of perspective to our understanding of the church. Based on our background, education, personality, interpretation of Scripture, submission to the Spirit, etc. we will all look at the church a little differently. That should be expected, and, in fact, welcomed.
Welcomed? Should we welcome the fact that we all look at the church differently? Absolutely!
How can I say that? Because no one (except for God) has a perfect perspective on this world, including the church. No one. My perspective is off. Your perspective is off. Her perspective is off. His perspective is off.
As Paul would say (paraphrasing), “We all look at the world as through a dark glass…”
Thus, the more we understand one another’s perspective on the world, the more we actually understand the world, and the more our own perspective becomes clearer. Even listening to and learning from a person whose perspective is obviously way off can help us see clearer, even if we don’t agree with that person’s perspective.
Here’s the problem… In much of the church today, only a few people are given the opportunity to offer their perspective on God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, humanity, the church, etc. The church has become dependent on one person (usually, but sometimes a few people) offering a clear perspective. However, it is impossible for that person to offer a clear perspective. He or she (or they) can only offer their perspective on the world and God and the church.
We need one another. We need to hear and understand one another’s perspective. We need to grow by seeing the world through the other person’s eyes, so to speak.
I think this is one of the reasons that the authors of Scripture continually and consistently called on their readers to “teach one another,” “admonish one another,” “edify one another,” “encourage one another,” etc. These “one another’s” are not tacked on to sound good. No! We truly depend on God working through the perspectives of other people to help us grow and mature in Jesus Christ.
As long as the church depends on the perspective of only a small sector of the body, the church will be stifled in its ability to grow. But, when the church learns to listen to and learn from the perspectives of the whole church, then we will find tremendous growth.
So, what do you think? What’s your perspective on this?
(By the way, here’s a shameless plug for my daughter. She has entered a photo in a contest on facebook, and I would appreciate it if you would look at this other photo and “like” it.)