A friend recently posted on Instagram a quote from the Reverend Rich Webster: “Faith is like a pair of glasses—everything looks different with it.” You’ve probably heard some variation of this before, such as “everything should be viewed through the lens of the gospel.”
To phrase the concept more specifically, the Gospel Transformation Bible says, “The gospel is the ultimate source of light that puts all of life into proper perspective” (notes, 2 Cor. 4:1-6).
In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul is reminding folks that, thanks to what God has done for us in Christ, we are no longer spiritually blind. Paul describes a life lived in Christ:
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Cor. 4:8-10).
We live in a society in which affliction, perplexity, and persecution are to be avoided at all costs. We see a life encountering any of these as diminished. What Paul is telling the Corinthians (and us) is that there is more to life than our current circumstances. In fact it is the very situations that cause us the most grief that are “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). As counterintuitive as it sounds, we should rejoice in our sufferings (Rom. 5:3).
Understanding on a deep level that which Christ accomplished for us on the cross, namely, eternal union with God, enables us to sustain the difficulties that life throws our way. Again, Gospel Transformation Bible: “To believe that God’s permanent, death-defeating promise is more defining than our momentary experiences is to walk by faith, not by sight” (notes, 2 Cor. 5:1-10).
This brings up an interesting question: how do you define your life? I know how I define my life theologically, but do I behave in a way that’s in accordance with my beliefs? Oftentimes the answer is no. It’s as though I keep misplacing my “gospel glasses.” In reality what I need is Lasik surgery. The good news is that God is faithful to me even when I’m not faithful to him. His promises endure, as cited in Psalm 91:
I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in time of trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them.
With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.
Psalm 91:14-16, NRSV
Notice it doesn’t say “as long as they never lose sight of who I am to them.” God is in the driver’s seat in this relationship, which is really good news for those of us who are nearsighted.