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13 Oct '08

Ways of seeing

Posted by T.J. Addington in holistic ministry, Jesus, The heart
Perspective and vision are interesting things. Eyewitnesses of an accident can both see the same thing but are sure they saw different scenarios than the others did. As Christ followers we are constantly challenged to "see" life, circumstances, events and news from an eternal perspective rather than a human perspective. Many Christ followers never catch the reality that "seeing" from kingdom eyes is very different from "seeing" from merely human eyes.

You remember the account in the gospels where Jesus and the disciples are overwhelmed with the crowds of people hungry to meet Jesus and desperate to have their circumstances changed. The disciples were tired and it seems a bit cranky and saw the crowds as a distraction and a hassle. But Jesus, "looking at the crowds was moved with compassion for they were like sheep without a shepherd." The disciples saw from human eyes while Jesus saw with kingdom eyes.

Human sight is at its core selfish. It sees those things that either help us or hinder us, are to our advantage or disadvantage, give us power or rob us of the same. Kingdom sight is utterly unselfish. It is about giving rather than receiving, it is about serving rather than being served - as the disciples who asked for the honor of sitting at Jesus' right and left side when in heaven found out. Or as those listening to the parable of the good Samaritan discovered.

There is also a time perspective to human versus kingdom seeing. Human eyes are concerned about how the circumstances of life impact me. Kingdom eyes are concerned about how the circumstances of life build God's kingdom, even if to our temporary detriment.

Those who are martyred for their faith understand kingdom sight. They realize that there is something far more precious and significant than even their own lives and are willing to lay down their lives for the sake of Christ and his kingdom. Hebrews 11 is a testimony to those who lived their lives with kingdom vision rather than human vision.



How we see deeply impacts how we live. Our world is driven by fear and a desire to protect ourselves and our interests at any cost. Following Jesus is driven by faith and a willingness to pay any price to be where Christ wants us to be - realizing that to be where Jesus is - is both the most dangerous and most safe place we could ever be. That is why some Christ followers can see circumstances from a perspective of faith, while others see the same circumstances from a perspective of fear.

How we do something as mundane as assimilate the news on CNN or Fox is influenced by whether we are watching with human or kingdom eyes. Human sight assumes that the news is all bad, that the world is going to hell in a hand basket and is pervaded with a sense of gloom and fear.

Kingdom eyes see the same news and they realize that God is still sovereign and that in fact, God uses all the events of the world, good or bad to build his church. They know that no event occurs in our world, good or bad that does not first pass by the hands of God and that he does not use to build his church.


How we view people around us depends on which eyes we are seeing them through. From a human perspective many people are simply losers who have little value to us or society. They may lack the education, sophistication, status or whatever it is that gives one "value" in our world.

Kingdom vision sees the same people and it instinctively says, "this person is precious to God, Jesus died for her, and I will honor her." A study was done of hierarchies of value in a hospital setting. Surgeons were at the top, janitors were at the bottom. The level of respect, eye contact and interaction were highest at the top and lowest at the bottom.

Recently I was waiting in the TSA line at the airport. The TSA agent looked at my license and said, "Do you know a Dr. Addington who was a surgeon?" I said "Yes, it's my dad." He said, "Dr. Gordon Addington"? I said "Yes, that's him." He said, "years ago I was a janitor at United Hospital and your dad befriended me. He even invited me to spend Christmas with the family."

My father had been using his kingdom vision and in doing so upset the value proposition of human vision.

It is an intriguing exercise to go through one's day asking "How would Jesus view this person or this circumstance? How would kingdom vision differ from human vision?" They are very different and they yield hugely different responses.

Which way of seeing is your default?