A couple of years ago I received a camera for my birthday – a gift from one of my sons. It is a very nice camera, a Nikon D3200 and it came with two lenses. I should make it clear from the start that I am no photographer and I know next to nothing about cameras. This beautiful gift was given to me as an invitation. You see, my son is a photographer, a mass communications specialist for the United States Navy, a photojournalist. Because he is passionate about his work, he bought me this gift as an invitation to be a part of his world.
We have since enjoyed several adventurous outings in the name of photography. They generally involve extensive hikes into nature and because I am traveling with my son, these adventures generally involve pushing the limits. We have found ourselves lost on unbroken trails pushing through deep snow where our “couple of mile” hike turned into a ten-mile hike that pushed me physically farther than I thought I could go. We have been on trails that invariably had signs posted somewhere along the way that said “Do Not Enter” or “Trail Closed” and yet we still walked them. We took a sand dune hike that I was sure would cause me to pass out from dehydration and heat stroke and which yielded few photographs as I was more focused on continuing to put one foot in front of the other than on finding that “perfect shot”. And we have hiked a state park in Virginia that is probably one of the most beautiful and memorable adventures I have enjoyed with my family. All the while my son has endeavored to teach me how to use the camera properly, starting with which lens to use.
One of my lenses is great for “normal” use – family photos, my granddaughters acting silly, the dog chasing the chickens – that type of thing. But the other lens, my favorite lens, allows me to take up-close photos of things that are far away. It’s perfect for capturing the baby humming bird wobbly perched on the feeder, or the osprey nest nestled atop the trees and carefully guarded by watchful parents. I use it to capture the expression on my youngest son’s face as he reels a fish into the boat while I am drifting a ways away in the kayak. I love looking closely at things that would otherwise be hard to see or would be missed entirely. God created us to look, to observe, to examine, and to compare. We are by nature, watchers.
With all these powers of observation, one would think the human race would watch more carefully over the more important things – our lives perhaps. You see, the world in which we live offers us many lenses from which to carefully view ourselves and we must be mindful of which lens we choose. Not all lenses show accurate information.
There are lenses designed to capture the world’s image of “success”. And there are lenses that will capture our image and measure it against what society considers beautiful or intelligent or important. Lenses like these rarely show us an accurate view of ourselves, frequently leaving us both disappointed and deceived. They should be avoided.
When it comes to examining our own lives, the lens we use should be much different. There is only one lens that will allow us an accurate view of ourselves without deceiving or destroying us – the Word of God. First, the lens of God’s word shows us a shockingly simple and accurate image of who we are without God. Consider the following examples from the book of Romans, chapter 3 [ERV]:
- There is no one doing what is right, not even one.
- There is no one who does good, not even one.
- Their mouths are full of cursing and angry words.
- They are always ready to kill someone.
- Everywhere they go they cause trouble and ruin.
- They don’t know how to live in peace.
Slightly disturbing, isn’t it? Yet it is an accurate picture of any human being who is without the redemptive salvation of the Lord and who is living in his/her fallen, sinful nature. Nothing we do can change this. It is who we are.
Why would a loving God want us to view ourselves through this lens?! Simple. So that we could recognize how hopeless and helpless we are and then turn to the only one who could possibly make us right – Jesus.
Once we have surrendered our lives to Jesus, once we allow Him to have lordship, total control, He is able to change how we view ourselves because only He can change the lens.
When viewed through the lens of Jesus, we are beautiful!
His Word is full of images that capture that beauty. Consider these:
- Salt of the earth and light to the world [Matthew 5:13-14]
- A child of God [John 1:2]
- Christ’s true friend [John 15:15]
- A member of Christ’s body [1Cor. 12:27, Eph 5:30]
- A new creation [2 Cor. 5:17]
- Chosen of God and dearly loved [Col. 3:12, 1 Thess. 1:4]
- Free forever from condemnation [Romans 8:1]
- Given the mind of Christ [1 Cor. 2:16]
- Established, anointed, and sealed by God in Christ Jesus and given the Holy Spirit as a
- pledge guaranteeing an inheritance to come [2 Cor.1:21, Eph 1:13-14]
I like this lens! I like the “me” that it captures. And though I still have the option to pick up and use the lenses offered by the world, why would I? Why choose a lens that cannot possibly create the glorious, lasting image created by the lens of God’s word?
Which lens are you using to view yourself and your life? Something that the world has offered you? The lens of other people’s opinions? The deceitful lens of the enemy who seeks to destroy you? As for me, I’d like my life’s lens to always and only be Jesus and His Holy Word! It is the only lens that will produce a “me” that never needs to bow in shame or guilt or condemnation. It will produce a “me” that is beautifully created in the image of the Almighty God.