Thursday, September 20, 2007

A matter of perspective

I was late. It was November of 1980 and I was driving from Appomattox, Virginia (my home town) to Roanoke, Virginia to catch a plane. This was the first time I ever flew commercially and I had not allowed myself adequate time for the journey. Complicating matters on this morning drive was a dense fog that slowed me down as I attempted a mad dash for the airport.

And I mumbled and grumbled against that fog.

But I made it—caught my flight just barely. I settled into my window seat and let the tension drain away. Helping to lower my stress level was an amazing scene below me as the airliner rose over the mountains surrounding Roanoke.

The sky was a cool, crisp, deep blue and down below were autumn colored mountains. In the valleys between the mountains were giant cotton balls. Well, that’s what they looked like. Actually they were clouds but these clouds were not behaving in normal cloud-like fashion. Instead of floating high in the sky they hugged the valleys below such that they looked like giant cotton balls that God had pressed down between the mountains with his thumb.

It was a beautiful scene.

Then it hit me! Those giant cotton balls were the fog that slowed me down going to the airport! Down below I mumbled and I grumbled against those clouds. Up above I oohed and ahhed over their beauty. Same clouds. The only thing that changed was my perspective on them.

The way we look at something or someone makes a world of difference. The opening verses of Luke 15 teach us something about the way we should look at people, especially the way we look at those considered the most immoral people of society.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law complained that Jesus formed close bounds with some of the most sinful people of that day. Jesus spent a lot of time with people with bad reputations and some of the most religious folks of that time thought this was terrible. They saw immoral people as despicable things to be avoided.

In response Jesus told some stories about things of value being lost, sought after, found and celebrated. So Jesus saw those considered to be the most immoral as people of great value to be sought after. The most respected religious people saw them as scum to steer clear of.

Same people. The only difference was the way they were viewed.

What’s your perspective on those considered to be the most immoral people in our society? The way we look at someone makes a world of difference. Do we look at people with bad reputations in the way that Jesus looked at them?

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