New Wine for New Wineskins August 2021

By , August 1, 2021 8:47 am

Perspective Is Everything

(Part One)

Ephesians 4: 11 – 12

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ

After over thirty years of serving in the body of Christ I have come to the conclusion that while there are many ways to be equipped for ministry there is nothing or no-one who can prepare you for ministry.

Nothing can prepare you for the challenges, the wounds, the disappointments, the betrayals, the ups and downs, the successes and the failures, the highs and the lows, the trials and temptations. I heard someone say the other day that if you are not bleeding you are not leading. And yet there is no higher calling and no work more fulfilling. And there is nothing else in this world that you can do where what you accomplish and achieve will follow you into eternity.

Jesus equipped his disciples for ministry but it very quickly became apparent that they were not really prepared for ministry.

And so, I have titled this message series “Perspective Is Everything”.

perspectivea particular attitude toward or way of regarding something / someone

Perspective is the way you see yourself, other people, the world, and what happens to you. It’s the foundation of your worldview and your outlook on life; it is the source of your attitude which will determine your altitude. That’s how it can be everything, especially since we have a high calling – a calling to go high and not low.

I believe that we need a change in perspective if we are going to fulfil our calling and the commission we have been given because perspective is everything.

Firstly, I believe we need a change of perspective in how we view people who are still unsaved and who are without God and without hope in this world.

If there is anything that I have had forcefully highlighted to me during the past year and a half of madness it is that there a lot of people who are without God and without hope for the simple reason that they have no living and vital relationship with God.

Most of us are familiar with the account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well recorded in John chapter 4.

In ministering to this woman Jesus broke just about every religious convention that existed in the religious tradition in which he had been raised.

I remember many years ago the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “You will have to break out of the cultural mores if you are going to break into the more of God”.

Mores are defined as the essential or characteristic customs, conventions, traditions, practices, of a community.

Jesus gave this woman, who was someone whom on many cultural fronts he shouldn’t even have been speaking, the greatest revelation of the true nature of worship that anyone has ever been given. A revelation that supernaturally transformed her into an evangelist who was responsible for bringing her whole city into the kingdom.

It seems that Jesus had a very different cultural perspective – and perspective is everything.

John 4: 27, 34 – 35

27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”

34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, “There are still four months and then comes the harvest”? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!

Jesus basically told his disciples that if they wanted to reap a harvest of souls they would need a change of perspective because perspective is everything.

If Jesus had not had a different perspective from his disciples then a Samaritan outcast and her city would have remained lost.

If we see people from the perspective of who they are right now or what they have done in the past and judge them accordingly then we will not see much of a harvest.  However, if we see people from a kingdom and heavenly perspective then we will see their potential to be everything that Jesus at the Cross has already provided for them to be.

When Jesus established the New Covenant by dying and rising again from the dead I believe that the way God sees people changed forever. And so it is important that we also have a change of perspective so that we see people in the same way that he does because, after all, perspective is everything.

How we see people will impact on what we say to people and how we respond to people. I believe that when you change the way you look at people it can result in a change in the people you look at.

We need to look at people from the perspective of what Jesus already accomplished on their behalf on the Cross.

2 Corinthians 5: 18 – 20

18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing [reckoning] their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

The Cross is the great equaliser. Jesus sat down with this woman and treated her as his equal, which was completely contrary to how tradition had wired people.

Remember, how we see people will determine what we say to people. Believers can have a reputation of being a little imperious and coming across as being of the opinion that they are somehow better than other people in and of themselves. But when we see people as those who, from God’s perspective, are already reconciled to him then our mission and our message becomes one of simply inviting people to seal the deal by accepting all that Jesus accomplished on their behalf at the Cross.

The Cross is where God’s desire to have a restored relationship with fallen man intersects our horizontal journey through life and confronts us with truths about ourselves that we may not previously have been aware of as we have been blinded by pride, or that we have sought to keep hidden from others through shame.

The Cross confronts us with the truth that we have sinned and come short of the glory of God, that we are unable to justify or to save ourselves and that we are in desperate need of a Saviour. But at the same time the Cross confronts us with the unconditional love of God and his mercy and grace in providing us with the Saviour that we so desperately need. The end result of this encounter is determined by our response to the truth we are confronted with.

The crux of Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well was his invitation to her to go and get her husband. This could have been the deflection point where she rejected the convicting truth and turned her away from her opportunity to embrace the mercy and grace that was being freely offered to her.

Please note Jesus didn’t open by telling her that God had a wonderful plan for her life although that was most definitely true and it was the entrance into that wonderful plan that he was leading her towards.

Remember what Jesus said to his disciples in response to their question of why he was talking to this woman.

34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”    

God’s word tells us that his will is that none perish but that all people come to repentance and faith – that all people are saved.  Jesus came to finish the work that the Father sent him to do and he said that he sends us in the same way that the Father sent him – to do his will and finish his work which is to reach the whole world with the good news of the kingdom.

The message of the Cross is what keeps the connection between heaven and earth open. If our vertical worship doesn’t lead to horizontal work then we have moved away from the message of the Cross.

1 Corinthians 1: 22 – 24

22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

We preach Christ crucified for sin, for sickness, for oppression, and for every other manifestation of the curse. What Jesus accomplished on the Cross threw heaven open and granted free access to the very throne room of grace – where all can come and receive mercy and find grace to help in every time of need.

Jesus says, “Follow me”. The Holy Spirit who the Father sent to empower us continue Jesus’ ministry in us and through us also says, “Follow me”.

Romans 8: 14

14 For as many as are led by [who follow] the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

When we look at people from the perspective of mercy and grace it completely changes everything. And perspective is everything. Mercy allows people space and opportunity to change in an atmosphere of no condemnation where they can access the fullness of God’s grace which supernaturally enables them to change.

That’s what Jesus provided for the Samaritan woman and she responded by acknowledging truth and embracing the opportunity for great change.

In John 4 it says Jesus had to go through Samaria. If Jesus had to go in order to have encounters with people that would radically impact whole communities then why has a lazy and slumbering church evolved that doesn’t want to go anywhere but would rather stay and wait for God to come and do what they have already been told to go and do.

I guess such a church must need a change of perspective – because perspective is everything.

Jesus said, “Go!” He said that when the Holy Spirit came we would be empowered to be witnesses to him locally, regionally, cross-culturally, and internationally. We will go and do because of who we be. Has the Holy Spirit come? Then our mission and commission remain the same.

Over the centuries, and perhaps particularly in more recent times, the church has been in a cycle of false starts that are called revivals.

Please understand that I know this challenging of the cultural tradition within the church can be unpopular but without a challenge there can be no choice that will result in the change – the great change that we have the potential to accomplish in our generation.

Every generation wants to be the one in which Jesus returns and yet most neglect personal involvement in the one thing that will ensure that happens, which is reaching the whole world with the good news of the kingdom.

Revival is asking God to come and do what he has called and commissioned us to go and do. According to Mark 16: 20 he comes when we go. We are not supposed to be waiting for him because he is in fact waiting for us.

But this error is what happens when the church approaches the Great Commission from an old covenant perspective. We need a change of perspective, because perspective is everything.

Jesus made many powerful statements that really messed with the faulty perspective of his disciples. For example, it would appear that they had frequent disputes among themselves about who would be the greatest.

Mark 9: 33 – 35

33 Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. 35 And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

This must have blown a big hole in their selfish ambition. Imagine it this way – the greatest church in town is the one which stays the smallest because it sends out so many disciples to make disciples and to plant new churches.

Jesus told the first disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them – equipping them with the power to be witnesses to him in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth – locally, regionally, cross-culturally, and internationally.

But the reality is that they didn’t immediately launch out into the fullness of the extent of that ministry. In fact, even though they had been equipped by Jesus through teaching and example it soon became obvious that they weren’t prepared to engage in cross-cultural or international ministry.

They certainly took off in Jerusalem and were effective in continuing Jesus’ ministry there but they had to battle through traditional mindsets to get beyond their local and parochial worldview. Have a read through Acts and see the timeline and the personal challenges they had to overcome.

And remember, perspective is everything.

More next time….

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