If I had to summarize the one thing I have learned from all of my studies this past year into just one word, that word would be perspective. Regardless of whether the study was over Heaven, grace, prayer, or the lies of Satan, every single one boiled down to one simple thing – changing my perspective. Allow me to illustrate:
- When I first started this blog, back in the spring of 2010, I was in the middle of a long study over the book of Genesis. As I glance back over the posts I wrote back then (click Genesis under categories to the right to see for yourself), I can tell that a theme emerged – the theme was that God is sovereign over all and in control of everything. The change of perspective that occurred during that time was a shift of focus, from myself to God.
- My next big study after that was Heaven, by Randy Alcorn. That study helped me to get a better grasp of the nature of Heaven, the afterlife, and eternity. It helped give me more of an eternal perspective on things, and therefore, not to put so much stock in earthly problems and things I might be missing out on in this life. Coincidentally, what is the name of Randy Alcorn’s ministry organization? Eternal Perspective Ministries. Boom!
- I liked the study by Randy Alcorn, so I jumped into another study of his, called the Grace and Truth Paradox. The focus of that study was to approach the world with an attitude of standing for truth, yet showing grace. That dynamic is easier said than done, but is exactly how Jesus approached the world, and should therefore be our goal as well. My perspective on things like dealing with people with conflicting beliefs as myself was greatly influenced in this study.
- After that, I did Voddie Baucham’s The Ever Loving Truth, which focused solely on standing up for truth in a world that prefers the belief that everything is relative. This study helped renew my faith in the validity of the Bible as the source of all truth, and gave me some strategies for standing up for truth. This was helpful since, deep down, I’m a coward.
- The last organized study I did was over prayer – Disciple’s Prayer Life by T.W. Hunt. My goal was to improve my prayer life, which is still as pitiful as can be. Having a perspective of God where you can approach Him at all times and with all things is important to an intimate relationship with Him. It’s still something I need to improve on.
Now I’m doing this study, Twisting the Truth, by Andy Stanley, and in the middle of this week’s materials, he asks, based on what we have studied about the nature of Satan and his opposition to us, “how should that influence your perspective on your personal struggles?” How fitting that, once again, my Bible study would take me back to perspectives. I’m starting to get the idea that perhaps the essence of being a Christian, to becoming more like Christ, is to change your perspective on things (I know, I know…duh…).
So, when it comes to the opposition we face when our enemy deceives us and tries to ruin our lives, the perspective I think I am being lead to embrace is that our life is going to be laced with struggles, but that there is a cause behind those struggles. We are all going to face trials and temptations, relationship problems and financial woes. We’re all going to get stressed about work or worried about the future at some point. But the changed perspective we are supposed to have is that these struggles are likely the work of a real enemy. Paul says “…our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
If your spouse cheats on you, remember that he has been deceived – he made a bad choice and deserves the consequences of his actions, but it’s not only him that’s the problem. When your teenage daughter starts rebelling and doing things you don’t approve of, remember that she has been deceived – she’s not the only one to blame for her actions. Remember to factor in an enemy who deceives even the best of us. Heck, even pastors have been known to fall for Satan’s lies every now and then. Don’t take the responsibility for people’s actions off of their shoulders, but keep it in the back of your mind that perhaps they are not the only ones to blame. It’s not an easy perspective to take, but it helps quench hateful emotions, and makes it a little easier to start down the path of forgiveness.