Many of us have seen the ink drawing which, at first glance, appears to be nothing more than wandering lines on a page. We are told it is a drawing of an ugly old hag. Soon we see the ugly old hag and we can’t believe we didn’t see her immediately. At this point, we believe we have seen the drawing accurately and understand it. Obviously, it is what it is.
A few minutes later, we are told to look again, there is more to the drawing than we have seen. Some of us stare at it until we see the beautiful young woman. When we see her, we are shocked. Others have to be told that we are looking at a beautiful young woman. With this suggestion, most of us see her. It is a delightful discovery. Sadly, some of us never see her, even though we have been told she is there.
The point of the drawing is that the frame of reference [what we are told to see] often defines what we see. This is nothing but entertainment as regards the drawing, but what does “frame of reference” have to do with things that really matter, like our understanding of God?
I have been in the religion business for a long time. I have talked “religion” with members of all the world’s great religions. The vast majority of those I have talked to have the same frame of reference, Christians included. For almost all of us the frame of reference is “good behavior.”
Being “religious” is about keeping the rules and practicing the rituals. These change from religion to religion but the frame of reference does not. The frame of reference for most of us Christians is no different. This is harmless unless the frame of reference is wrong, in which case, our faith will not work as promised. I believe this is what many Christians experience – a faith that is not working. The artist who drew our faith promised true righteousness, peace and joy. Is this the reality most of us live most of the time? My experience, both personally and through observing the lives of many Christians, over many years, leads me to the conclusion that our frame of reference is wrong.
Viewing our faith through the lens of good behavior, or really, any behavior at all, is not what God intended. “Being good” is not what God had in mind for us. God is quintessentially relational; after all, He is a relationship [three in one]. Our faith is really nothing more than a relationship. Most Christians would agree with this, but for some reason, inherent to our human nature, we default to living our faith focused on our behavior. In trendy terms, we need a paradigm shift.
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