Seeing the Whole Picture



Seeing The Whole Picture

Did you ever use Google Earth or the satellite feature of a mapping website? If not, click on this link (which will open in a new window or tab). Then click on the little map at the right. Be sure that the “Satellite” tab is selected. Behold! It’s Hempfield Church of the Brethren. Zoom all the way in. (Hey, I wonder who is parked in the first visitor space?) Now zoom all the way out and see the entire planet. Pretty cool! With each click, the picture changes. Or does it? The thing that changes is your perspective—near or far. When you see the whole planet, Hempfield COB is still in the picture, it’s just impossibly small. And when you’re zoomed in, you can’t see the oceans.

The holidays provide us with an endless succession of such examples within one snapshot: Great happiness and increased suicide rate; wealth and poverty; shepherds and wise men; life and death.

For some, the holidays bring into painful focus the loss of loved ones even as they celebrate the birthday of Jesus. For every joyful caroler there is a lonely, silent person who wonders why everyone is happy except for them. Some drink to excess because they’re having fun and others do the same to numb the pain.

I think about angels a lot this time of year. Wow, have we done them a great indignity. Look at this guy

Do you really think he would have prefaced his statement to the shepherds with “DO NOT BE AFRAID!” More likely this guy would have said, “Hey, stop laughing!” Angels are fierce and terrible, beautiful and powerful. The Apostle Paul had to head off the practice of angel worship and John himself tried to worship an angel:

At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.” (Rev 19:10)

Philip Yancey does a great job drawing our attention to the entire picture of the Holy Night, which he describes as “a daring raid by the ruler of the forces of good into the universe's seat of evil.” Yet our hearts are drawn to the image of the infant God, baby Jesus and the Silent Night on our side of this battle.

If we had a mouse button that could control our view of the world, perhaps our vision wouldn’t be so focused as to lose the big picture. “You can’t see the forest for the trees” as they used to say. And even if we had such a thing, we couldn’t understand. But this Holiday we can remind ourselves of the most jarring dichotomy of all as described by the prophet Isaiah:

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

 We are healed by His wounds. Attempt to wrap your brain around that statement—nothing could seem to be a greater contradiction. And yet it is so true that your very soul depends on it.

Does it make sense that Jesus came as a baby knowing that he would be scorned, rejected and crucified?

Does true love ever make sense?

"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." Rev 11:15


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There is 1 comment

What a powerful message. I especially liked the "by his wounds we are healed" That's humbling.

December 22, 2010 - 06:57
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