Wisdom From Above
When have you looked at the world through a heavenly lens?
The Christian writer Philip Yancey was preparing for a class on the Sermon on the Mount while watching a general give a television briefing on a successful military campaign. As he listened, Yancey realized that he was hearing the words of Jesus in reverse. “Blessed are the strong. Blessed are the triumphant in spirit. Blessed are the liberated. Blessed are the conquering soldiers.” He was hearing the exact opposite of the Sermon on the Mount.
And yet, Yancey was not feeling critical of the general. He saw him as someone who “embodies perfectly the qualities of strength, leadership, and confidence our world honors.” But he also realized that the Sermon on the Mount “expresses quite plainly that God views this world with different lenses.”
The letter of James makes clear that we can choose to see the world through a heavenly lens or through an earthly lens. “Are any of you wise and understanding?” asks James. Then use a heavenly lens: “Show that your actions are good with a humble lifestyle that comes from wisdom” (James 3:13). When you look at life with “wisdom from above,” you follow Jesus in being “peaceful, gentle, obedient, filled with mercy and good actions, fair, and genuine” (verse 17).
But if you look at the world with an earthly lens, it becomes easy to act in ways that are “from the earth, natural and demonic” (verse 15). Such an approach to life is comfortable with “jealousy and selfish ambition,” as well as “disorder and everything that is evil” (verse 16). The choice is yours: Heavenly lens or earthly lens.
As Christians, we are challenged to live by the values of the kingdom of God, and to live a humble lifestyle that comes from wisdom. This means serving others and showing respect for little children, knowing that such behavior honors Christ. When children were brought to Jesus, the disciples tried to send them away. But Jesus said, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children” (Matthew 19:14).
When we look at the world with a heavenly lens, we embrace children who are unwanted, neglected, abused, and ignored. Instead of sending them away, we welcome kids who are hungry for approval, affirmation, intellectual stimulation, and Christian education. Whenever we welcome the children of the community into the life of the church, we send a strong message about the values of the kingdom of God.
God of wisdom, help me to see others through a heavenly lens. Amen.