This last week at the beginning of my sermon, I asked a variety of people to put glasses on with colored lenses. When I asked each person how the world looked, each responded that things appeared to be precisely like the color of the lenses they were wearing. The person with red lenses said the world looked red. The person with the blue lenses replied, “Everything is blue.” The same was the case for those wearing yellow, pink, purple and green lenses.
The color of the lenses we have on determines the color of how we see things. When we have a set of lenses on, it can be hard to imagine seeing things in a different way. And sadly, when we have a particular set of colored lenses on, we may even think it is the only way to see something.
All of this, I believe, serves as an apt metaphor for something of vital importance. That is, every day, you and I have lenses through which we see life and all of what I said about colored lenses applies to many other lenses as well.
If I put on a lens in the morning that says, “People are negative.” Guess what, that is what I will see throughout the day. If I put on a lens in the morning that says, “People are pretty darn nice.” I will see lots of nice people throughout that day. Or if I put on a lens that says, “Gratitude” I’ll have a very different experience than if I put on a lens that says, “Complain.”
There are countless other lenses. Just think for a moment about some of them. Old. Young. Liberal. Conservative. Flexible. Stagnant. Fear. Trust. The list goes on and on. When we wear lenses it is hard if not impossible to see things from a different perspective unless, of course, we are intentional and open.
Whether or not we are aware of it, each of us makes conscious or not-so-conscious choices about what lenses we wear in life and those lenses affect everything. Everything, from the decisions we make, to how we act, to our emotions, our outlook, and our relationships with others. All such things come from our lenses. And like it or not, there are many ways to see the same thing.
There is one lens I struggle with putting on each day. I know it is the right lens to put on. I know my life would be different if I began each day with this particular lens. I know I would experience more joy, less stress, a sense of release, less judgmentalness, more love and kindness, and a greater sense of purpose if I put this lens on each morning and left it there regardless of what comes my way any given day.
What I am talking about is the lens that says “Everything in my life, about my life, in this world, is God’s.” Said more simply, if I started each day putting on the lens, “It all belongs to God,” boy would things be different.
If my life is spent embracing, trusting, and living by the idea that everything belongs to God, my life will be entirely different than if I kinda of, or sort of, or once in a while live by the truth that everything is God’s.
To be more specific. Is nature which surrounds us God’s? Does that impact our relationship with creation? How about the abilities and talents we have? Are they God given and therefore God’s? How about our success? God’s? Or how about our family, our partnerships, our marriages, our children, and our friends? Do they all belong to God? Or is it just all circumstance or due to me and my efforts.
To what extent do we treat and relate to strangers or those who are vastly different from who we are as if they belong to God? How about time itself? Does our time and how we spend it, does such time come from and belong to God at its foundation? How about our assets? Our bank accounts. The cash in our pocket. It is all God’s or kind of or sort of or when there is some left over? How about our bodies? Do we treat our bodies as if our bodies belong to God? What about where we live? Do our homes belong to God?
The point of all of this is not to make us feel deficient, guilty feeling or somehow less than. The goal here is not to diminish who we are or make us feel bad. The point is actually quite the opposite. The point of all of this really is about a wonderful, glorious, upbeat, exciting, loving invitation from God to work on something together as followers of Jesus.
God invites us to work individually and collectively on living by the truth that everything and everyone belongs to God. God extends this invitation because God knows that as we accept the invitation, we will more and more discover the astonishing life God intends for each of us to have.
I invite each of us to do something over the days ahead. That is, to explore what lenses we wear in life. How do they affect and impact us and others? What do others see about us as a result of the lenses we wear? Where are we with the lens that it all belongs to God. And how do we think things might be different if we wore that lens more often?
While these are challenging questions, it is essential that we remember God adores us and wants it all for us and wants us to have amazing purpose filled, joyful and love filled days. And God knows the way to get there is to make a choice everyday to put on the lens that says, “It all belongs to God”.