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Perspective: The way we see the church

Posted by on May 18, 2011 in discipleship | 9 comments

Perspective: The way we see the church

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.)


9 Comments

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  1. 5-18-2011

    Thanks for the reminder that “church” is the whole messy bunch of all of us in our multi-varied shapes and sizes. Yes, I would like for others to have the same perspective of church that I do, but God is bigger than that and loves all his children…even the ones who don’t “get it!” :)

  2. 5-18-2011

    So true, yet so hard to do!

    I have friends, a particular family, who can relate with churches, attend them, love those in and around church; yet they are open to other types of worship gatherings too. They so impress me by finding true fellowship inside and out. Actually, in any setting you can find them expressing Who Christ is to them. They do their best to not take offense and not be offensive. They try for all they’re worth to truly focus only on Jesus.

    I imagine that is how God wants all His full-grown children to be.

  3. 5-18-2011

    Guy,

    Yes, I have to remind myself of this often also. Have you had any experiences where God has taught you something about the church through someone who had a different perspective than you?

    Esther,

    Those are great friends to have and to emulate. I’ve bet they’ve learned alot about God and the church by spending time with people who have different perspectives. Have they shared any of that with you?

    -Alan

  4. 5-18-2011

    Alan, I seriously didn’t see this post until I posted what I just wrote. Even though it sounds a lot alike.

  5. 5-18-2011

    Arthur,

    I enjoyed your post very much! I hope more people write about this subject.

    -Alan

  6. 5-18-2011

    Loved this post! I was just thinking in similar ways about this topic this morning. A friend here at work, when discussing doctrinal differences between he and a co-worker, called himself a tulip and the other person a daisy. And I was thinking this morning that if we all were different flowers, representative of our perspectives on God, etc, and we didn’t cram each out of the garden but all comitted to staying planted next to each other wouldn’t we make a beautiful garden indeed! A garden with just one type of flower is not nearly as beautiful as a garden with all different varieties planted with each other. That’s my babble about this because I’m working it into a blog but needless to say, great post and confirms where my thoughts were this morning! :)

  7. 5-18-2011

    Beth,

    I think the garden analogy is a good one. Thanks.

    -Alan

  8. 5-18-2011

    Alan,

    Blow me down! You’ve gone and ruined it!

    I thought all Coke bottles were identical, like every local church should be! :)

    Beth’s garden sounds good to me!

  9. 5-18-2011

    Aussie John,

    Yeah, I know. It ruins everything.

    -Alan