"The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God." -St Irenaeus of Lyon

Changing perspectives

There’s something about putting on Christ that invites us to change how we see the world. It’s hard to see riches bursting from poverty, joy bursting from mourning, peace bursting through chaos, faith bursting through doubt, power bursting forth from surrender, life bursting forth out of a tomb. Yet that is exactly the story of Christ.

Too often, changing one’s perspective because of Christ is thought to be the equivalent foolish optimism, dismissive of the real circumstances, and amounting to wearing a fake smile all over the place. Life stops being real, and in some ways, it feels like living in a Barbie world where everything’s fantastic because it’s plastic. (Yeah I know the song reference is cheesy but it had to be made)

But I think one of the most powerful perspectives to change towards is honesty.  The thing about the story of Christ is that poverty, mournfulness, chaos, doubt, and surrender are all acknowledged. Moreover, these periods in our lives are embraced. Yet, in Christ, these periods of our lives can be lived with an authentic quality experienced in the present, knowing that something is coming that just does not make sense.

Sometimes we changing our perspective involves turning down our rationality just enough so we can listen for the silent voice of the miraculous.

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6 responses

  1. headintotheheavens

    I canNOT believe you linked to Barbie Girl. 😛

    10 April 2010 at 3:34 am

  2. There’s a lot of foolish optimism around, and much of it goes under the name “Christian.” I got an indication this week (by closing my mouth and opening my ears) that some people go to Church for “uplift,” which I took to be a sort of optimism injection. In some quarters, you’re thought unspiritual if your answer to “How are you doing?” isn’t “I’m just sooo blest I could bust!” That kind of Christianity really is plastic.
    There’s another kind of “Christianity” that sees the Church as little more than a social service agency, commissioned to go out and ameliorate social problems – as if Church members were already unequivocally healthy and wealthy enough to heal and enrich others.
    Sound Christianity is realistic about poverty, mourning, chaos, doubt, and above all death. But it doesn’t see them as the end of the story. And it incites Christians, particularly at times like Lent, to almsgiving of all sorts as much for the healing of the Christian from the passions as for the benefit of the recipients. And it eventuates in a joy that isn’t plastic at all, nor is it equivalent to optimism or uplift.
    Not sure I’ve said this well, but I’m trying to “eff the ineffable.”

    10 April 2010 at 6:51 am

  3. Reader John — point taken re: Church as social service agency and unequivocal health. Again, I think the central perspective shift is towards honesty. As an individual, I am not equipped to solve all of the world’s problems; yet, I am called to see the image of Christ in everyone around me to extend Christ’s Love for my good, the good of the Church, and the life of the world. The question of how the Church interacts with poverty does seem to be more about balance and motivating principles, but I think I’ll take some time for reflection and use your comment to springboard Friday’s Forum.

    10 April 2010 at 9:00 am

  4. Reader John

    Well put: I may not be equipped to solve all the problems, but I can see the image of Christ in people.
    Even on that, I fall short, but I’m doing better. I’ve learned with almost everyone to see some recognizable human yearning, to see even in outrageous behavior or garb a reflection of recognizable human desires. And then I usually remember, “Oh yeah. He’s created in God’s image, too.” It’s much harder to be censorious or shunning with that attitude.

    11 April 2010 at 6:23 am

  5. Pingback: Friday Forum: The Church, poverty and ground rules for discussion « A Practicing Human

  6. Pingback: The perspective of another: The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns « A Practicing Human

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