A Unique Perspective
Based on 1Samuel 15:34 – 16:13, 2Corinthians 5:11-17, Mark 4:26-34
There are people in the world who can look at a blue print or one of those pictorial instruction manuals and see what the finished product looks like. To my mind and eye, it is nothing more than lines on a paper. Same thing with those old fold-up-the-box drawings on tests, or the potential 3-D paper drawings of chemical structures I had to memorize for my Organic Chemistry classes. Never once have I been able to see the product – but some of my classmates really did have the perspective to be able to see things in a new way. Interestingly, they were also the ones who “saw” the genius in a Picasso painting – for me, it was never more than just a jumble of lines and outsized body parts – I never could recognize the beauty of the whole. In fact, one of my versions of hell is to find myself stuck in a museum with only Picassos to look at. It takes a unique perspective to be able to appreciate artists like Picasso and to read blue prints – a perspective I just don’t have.
Our scripture readings for today call us to a new perspective as well. That perspective being the one that God uses rather than the judgmental one that humans often employ. I think it is a good idea to spend some time in prayer, asking God to bestow this kind of perspective on us here today as we seek to understand God and our fellow humans.
The LORD had made Saul the king over the chosen people. Saul at first seemed to be a good choice, but over time, he became as Samuel had described to the people – greedy and proud and unwilling to follow Elohim’s commands. This grieved Samuel for many reasons, but especially because he didn’t want to be right about Saul’s behavior. God sends Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s eight sons in Bethlehem. Samuel thought for sure that the eldest of Jesse’s sons, Eliab, would be chosen as the next king, for he really looked the part. But God said, “…Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart….” (verse 7) God’s perspective is one that sees to the inner being of a person and knows what lies therein. God’s perspective knows what is important – and it has nothing to do with looks, money or physical acumen.
The Apostle Paul is writing again to the church in Corinth and helping them to see that it is not about outward appearances that matter once one becomes a follower of Jesus. The Corinthians seem to be having an identity crisis and need the Apostle to help put things right. There are people in the congregation boasting about their outward appearance but not about their heart. Thus, they have not been fully transformed by the Holy Spirit in their conversion – they are faking it in other words. Paul tells the faithful that Christ died for all, “…so that those who live might no longer live for themselves…” Paul urges the Corinthian church members to adopt the perspective that he has. Paul writes in verses 16 and 17 about this: “…From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new….” Paul is entreating the faithful to understand how to see in this new world of Christianity – look for the new and for the marks of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus speaks in parables of the mystery and abundant life of the kingdom of God. Mustard seeds are tiny, about the size of the period mark of the 12-point font I use for my sermon text. Yet they grow through the power of earth and water and sun into a plant that is twenty feet tall and nests birds within its branches. Similarly, the farmer goes about scattering the seed on the ground and sure enough up comes the corn or soybeans or grain crop. Each seed containing what is necessary under the right conditions to yield great harvests – abundance well beyond what is sown. It speaks to an old saying that humans know how many seeds are in an apple, but only God knows how many apples are in each seed! This is the unique perspective of God – the perspective of abundance instead of want.
Most all of you have planted your gardens and fields already (even with all the rain) and are seeing the results of the quality of seed and the conditions of soil and weather. I have been weeding flower beds with the help of Troy Miller, and I have been impressed with the overabundance of weeds, and their tenacity. I entered into a discussion of this with the Sunday school class and we all agreed that God created weeds that grow in all climates and conditions, and some like dandelions, which appear to be impossible to eradicate. It is true that even on the best kept fields there will always be some weeds that one cannot eradicate. God has created an abundance of things that we see as a nuisance – I wonder what God’s perspective on the plants we call weeds is..?
I have been clearing weeds out of flower beds that we created last fall in order to help the plants that you brought to us grow. I have been excited each day over the last 6 weeks or so, to walk out and see what is blooming in the gardens. There have been some wonderful surprises like some late blooming Iris of a type I had not seen before. Then there are the day lilies which we brought with us and some that you gave us…they grow just like the weeds and will ultimately need more space to flourish. We planted bulbs and seeds and rooted plants and most of them came bursting up out of the soil once the weather warmed and the rains began to fall.
This is God’s unique perspective and creative act. All things that God created have within them the ability to not only germinate, but to grow into full maturity and to bear with that maturity the next generation. God built a world where ecosystems develop and mature and transition with changing climatic conditions. Plants, animals, birds, insects, fish all adapt within those systems or they die out. Those ancient things that survive (like alligators, cock roaches, sharks) all have adapted to changing climates and conditions. Humans believe that they were the thing that changed the planet and discovered all her secrets – but the weather still surprises us, and we cannot control the rain or the sun. We are discovering that a mono-culture seed strategy is not one that will be sustainable – we need diversity to keep systems operating abundantly as they were designed.
God’s perspective is one of unity in diversity – the ability to see through the façade that we humans put up and look at the heart of the matter. There are many ethnicities but only one race – Homo Sapiens. That is why any human can procreate with any other human and create a human baby. What we need to see from this is that skin color is an anomaly based on the amount of sunlight in a region of the world where a person’s ancestors lived, and does not confer or denote anything meaningful about the person. As Rev. King Jr noted, he looked forward to a world where his children would be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. He had developed God’s unique perspective, so did Gandhi, so do many others in this great big world that we live in. To combat those injustices and evils in this world that have been created by looking from a human point of view, we need to adopt the unique perspective of God. The God who knows that once we fully commit to Christ, then we will see with eyes that are new, hearts that can empathize, minds that can think clearly and creatively when not limited by that human point of view. It has already begun with the Cross – now we just all need to get on board and live for each other and no longer just for ourselves. All those longing for this unique perspective in their lives say amen!