“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great the darkness.” Matthew 6:22-23

When I was young, my family went to Yellowstone Park. We have a picture of my brother standing in front of a huge moose in the background. The way the picture was taken, it looks like the little tiny moose is actually standing on my brother’s head. It’s hilarious. The reality is that the moose was probably 18 times his size and, if provoked, could have easily crushed him. Perspective changes everything.

Jesus often warns us to be careful in how we perceive things. In the parable of the sower, Jesus describes three different kinds of people, comparing them to different kinds of soil. The first group was rocky soil. These were people who, when they heard the word of God, received it with joy but had no firm root. The second were those who heard the word of God, but the worries and cares of the world choked out whatever was growing. They were called the thorny soil. The final soil was good soil. When these people heard the word of God they received it and produced fruit. Jesus then says, “So take care how you listen.” (Luke 8:18). How we hear God’s word changes everything.

And so we must start with some basic assumptions. Is God calling us to simply follow Him or are we called to abide in Him. There is a difference that will change our perspective. If we are simply to do what God is telling us to do, focus on our obedience, strive to be good Christians, the abundant life is choked out by our own efforts.

If, however, we read God’s word through the eyes of abiding, we read the same verses but read God’s life into them. What if we read Galatians 5 (the fruit of the Spirit) not as what we are to strive to be, but rather what God desires to produce in us? How else can the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5, make sense to us?

  1. *“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

  2. *“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

  3. *“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.”

  4. *“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

How do I ‘accomplish’ being poor in spirit? I just am. My job is not to strive to overcome that truth but to acknowledge it and receive the kingdom of heaven. I cannot produce love in my broken, fallen heart. No striving makes me more loving. But as I abide (like a branch) in Christ (the Vine), the God who IS love flows through me and produces His agape love in my life.

We must be careful how we are perceiving this. Our focus will lead us either to striving or abiding. The seed of God’s word will either take root or it will be choked out by how we are hearing it. Are your eyes clear so that you can be full of light?

The picture here today was taken from Ground Zero. While many questioned where God could have been during such a horrible trauma, this cross stood by itself in the rubble, perfectly intact and standing strongly in the middle of the chaos. As it was revealed, firemen removed their hats and said a prayer, thanking God for comforting them in the devastation. Did God leave them? Or was God in it with them to comfort them? It’s all in how you look at it.