We need a higher vantage point to understand the full context of our own lives and the whole human story. We’ll then see that even amid life’s difficulties a great plan and purpose is being worked out—toward a wondrous future with God.
A large and respected investment firm advertises, “Gain From Our Perspective,” assuring clients of help in achieving financial goals. The firm’s experts know and see things customers may not. Their perspective reflects years of investing experience, seeing a bigger picture of what techniques and practices are necessary for success and prosperity. They offer customers guidance toward this end, helping to keep them from financial ruin.
The slogan “Gain From Our Perspective” intrigued me because this principle can be applied to a far more valuable and lasting venture than merely making money. Consider: What if we could have a clearer view of life that solidly reveals who we are , where we came from , what is ahead for us and how we will get there ?
Wouldn’t you like to hear from One who has been alive through all time, who designed and created all that is, whose extraordinary perspective encompasses all, seeing so many things that we don’t? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to truly find out how it all works—learning this from a loving, all-powerful God who wants us to gain from it all?
Many would jump at this chance. The question then becomes: Can we tap into and experience this? Many have searched, conjectured and devised various philosophies and founded many religions that claim to offer enlightenment. Many others are clueless regarding these questions and are left in darkness and ignorance.
At first, we may feel too overwhelmed to give this more thought. We may find it challenging to choose any particular line of thinking about life’s meaning. After all, many have already explored this. Who, one may think, can stand against the accumulated knowledge of a legion of thinkers and clerics? The answer, as we will see, is both surprising and satisfying.
Questions about life’s meaning are timeless. Some 3,000 years ago King David recorded the apparent insignificance of human beings when contrasted with the majestic vastness of the night sky. As a shepherd before becoming royalty, David had spent many nights gazing at the stars above. Notice how he framed his thoughts in Psalms 8:3-4: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit [or attend to] him?”
When I was a teenager I pondered similar thoughts. I wondered about what happened after death. Would I cease to exist? I thought long and hard about these questions many a night in bed when it was quiet. It was very troubling. But through the pages of the Bible, God gave me an awesome perspective. I embraced that marvelous and sure perspective, and it has brought great things to my life. I want to share with you some thoughts about having this perspective.
God wants us to see, but there are hindrances
A fact sometimes overlooked is that our Creator God, our divine Parent, intended that we come to understand the meaning of our existence. He wants us to see what He is doing with and for all mankind, including you personally. But this insight does not come through intellect alone, or secular philosophers would have found the truth and agreed on it by now. The world’s most erudite thinkers cannot see the meaning of life. It’s presently hidden from them even though it’s right in front of them. Yet it’s not entirely their fault for not seeing it.
The problem with perception is mostly one of obstructions and mental barriers. This means that once the obstacles are removed, an entire world of design, a relationship with God and the profound meaning of life can come into clear focus.
Here’s the backstory: Jesus Christ came preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God. This gospel (the Greek word here literally means “good message” or “good news”) addresses the big questions of life—concerning God, man, the relationship between God and man, and our eternal future.
When Jesus preached in the ancient towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida in northern Galilee, He was met with closed minds and resistance. In His prayer to His Father in heaven, Jesus made a remarkable statement: “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes” (Matthew 11:25, emphasis added throughout).
We must become as little children
Jesus gave us an important key here to grasping these precious truths about our future. Understanding the Kingdom of God comes first to those who are like babes—like little children. Jesus underlined this in His ministry when little children were brought to Him to be blessed: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Mark 10:14-15).
His point is that we must be ready to receive this truth in a trusting and humble attitude, being approachable and teachable.
We see, then, that God’s message of His Kingdom is largely hidden to the world’s great thinkers, even to some who claim to be great theologians. But it is comprehensible to those who have a child-parent relationship with their Creator. This relationship is built on love, obedience, respect and humility, which is within every human being’s ability to a degree. It’s in this mental environment that understanding and perspective are established. The good news of Jesus Christ and God’s Kingdom was intended to eventually be understood by everyone—by the poor, the rich, the well-educated and the illiterate.
The apostle Paul reminds the Christians in Corinth about the kind of people God typically leads to see and understand His sacred truths:
“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.
“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord’” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
Once the vision is clear, a fantastic panoramic mural spanning from man’s prehistoric roots to everlasting glory unfolds. It is meaningfully tied together, showing God’s meticulous plan for humanity created in His image and likeness to exist in a family relationship with Him forever.
The enemy’s deceptions and human shortsightedness
Another factor in people not seeing the greater picture and purpose of life is one called the ruler of this world and god of this age, Satan the devil, who has tampered with people’s perceptions, blinding their eyes and minds so they cannot see. Again writing to the Corinthians, Paul declared:
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).
Our vision may also be limited because we see or consider only what is close by and immediate. We naturally may not see what God sees because we don’t look beyond our immediate surroundings. Just as we may have known, in our early years, little more than our familiar physical neighborhood, we may not perceive much beyond what we’ve grown up learning and experiencing.
So what about our personal perspective? Our early memories probably center on our parents. We remember the home we grew up in. We remember the people around us and how we related to them. We believed much of what people around us thought, this still influencing our thinking while we ventured on to our own views. It’s important to recognize that our initial concept of God, or lack of it, was derived from those around us. We also learned about evil and had experience of it.
As we grow older our perspectives broaden. We increasingly gain more understanding about the world around us. Through curiosity and education, we become aware of our city, state, country and the world. This same curiosity simultaneously extends to thoughts of being, helping to form our human understanding of our existence and matters of life’s meaning.
The source for answers and needed perspective
This leads to some critical questions: Why were we born? Is there a reason, a purpose, for human existence? Where did we come from? Is this physical life all there is? Does my life have a purpose? Can we see a purpose for our own life with its ups and downs, a mixture of joys and sorrows? Do we sense lasting value in its toil, challenges and uncertainties?
Grasping the answers to these important questions takes more than speculation and reason. It takes revelation, a shining guiding light to see all this—a “light to shine out of darkness”!
Where can we as human beings find the answers we seek? The only overwhelmingly authoritative source that has stood the test of time and scrutiny is the Bible, which has been amazingly and accurately preserved. It was written by more than 40 authors over a span of 1,500 years. In and of itself it is a chronicle of centuries of human experience. If we look to it with respect and humility, we will see design, fulfillment, purpose and lessons that give us perspective stretching across all time—from before the creation of the universe to far into the future.
So then, what is the story God is trying to tell us? What does He see that we don’t?
To understand anything more fully, we have to see it from a different and broader view. The best view is from high above, where you can see it all and comprehend its fullness. If we were to explain the geography of the earth from just knowing our neighborhood, that would be very inadequate.
Many have used Google Earth, a computer program with satellite, ground-level and computer-generated imagery that allows users to view and virtually navigate through cities and landscapes around the world. We can begin with our local neighborhood, showing our streets and even our own home.
We can then quickly zoom out and see more of what we’re part of. We begin to see the shape of our state. Zoom out farther and we can see our entire country. Still farther and we can see the curvature of the earth, and as we reach the limit of this program, we’ll see the earth as a sphere in space. You can thereby see the big picture of where you are in the world.
But where we are in the universe is on a far greater scale than where Google Earth can take us. Earth is one of the small inner planets of our solar system. Our sun is one of hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. Even our galaxy is only one of a “local” group of galaxies within a “local” supercluster of many more. As you expand out farther you start to gain the awe-inspiring perspective of an unimaginably large universe with hundreds of billions of galaxies that only God can perceive in full. We can easily concede that our street view of where we are in our galactic neighborhood is very limited.
Can we come to the point where we also admit that we don’t see everything about our place and purpose in life as well? Can it be that we simply don’t know because we don’t have that expansive view that takes into account the passage of time, events, history and many other factors?
As mentioned, the Bible offers the perspective of many authors writing about crucial aspects of human history and morality going back to the early days of the earth and man. It also authoritatively foretells the future, catapulting us way beyond our present time. It’s actually a rather straightforward story presenting a perspective by which we can learn and benefit.
As we now strive to gain from God’s perspective, let’s look at the Bible, His Word, as a book that gives us a much bigger and highly useful perspective from which we can gain immeasurably.
Zooming out to see the whole story
Some find the Bible a challenge to comprehend. If you were to turn to random sections of it, you would discover biographical and historical accounts, some that are violent and seemingly bizarre. You will read of murder, polygamy, war, slavery, idolatry, genocide and other evils. Seeing these as isolated events can make us wonder about the purpose of recounting some of these happenings.
But here’s the key: By zooming out and seeing the entire human experience from a higher perch, the overall story of man’s experience as narrated in the Bible begins to paint an indelible picture filled with meaning.
The story of man begins in the Garden of Eden. The book of Genesis describes two remarkable trees in this garden—the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God created human beings in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27), intending them to be in His family forever. He instructed Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of life, as it signified the source of eternal life.
And He warned them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which represented learning or experiencing life by trial and error, and rejecting God’s authority by substituting moral relativity. Death would be the certain outcome of this approach.
The Bible records that Adam and Eve made the wrong choice and were expelled from the Garden of Eden and thus from access to the tree of life—that is, from access to living forever. As mortal beings cut off from that access, Adam and Eve eventually died. This condition was also passed on to all humanity (Romans 5:12). The world at large remains barred from access to the tree of life.
Consider this perspective: The story of man as told by the Bible and history is a narrative of man trying to find his own way—with calamitous results. Perhaps you’ve not previously thought of it this way, but a little more than 1,500 years after man’s creation, society became so corrupted and steeped in evil that it was beyond repair. God then brought about a global Flood and in a sense rebooted human civilization with only a few survivors. But even after the Flood, humankind descended again into a harmful way of life. No improvement in the basic nature of man came about.
Imperialist civilizations rose and fell, starting with the city-state of Babylon. Marching across the ages, a civilization that has rejected God will produce, as revealed in the book of Revelation, a terrible end-time Babylon, known also as the Beast.
Along the way, man has experimented with every form of government imaginable. Each has had its flaws—some ending in catastrophe. Man has devised his own laws. Embracing moral relativism, humanity has created its own gods, religions and philosophies. Conflicts have been settled by murderous and destructive wars again and again and again. In generation after generation, societies have had to rise again and try to find their own way.
Around 65 million people (3 percent of the world’s population) perished in World War II. That global conflict blazed across all human civilizations and left a charred world. In the end, the state of today’s world is what man has to show for himself.
Yet, as bad it was in the 1940s, a coming global conflict will be far worse! In fact, the Bible foretells that events will grow so utterly turbulent and perilous that survival will be possible only through direct intervention and bailout by God Himself!
Jesus Christ warned: “For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive . . .” (Matthew 24:21-22, New Living Translation).
The incredible good news? “. . . But it will be shortened for the sake of God ’s chosen ones” (verse 22, NLT).
While man’s flawed saga carries on, God has been working out a marvelous plan—with its culmination yet to come. A long and thoughtful and loving story has been developing right alongside the pain of human drama.
Understanding the plan God is working out
God from the very beginning had a plan in operation to redeem humanity. He started by working through certain individuals between the creation and the Flood, and later through the family of Abraham, and then through a nation descended from him. As the Bible records, the nation of ancient Israel was to be the agency through which redemption—buying man back from sin and death—would ultimately come.
God rescued Israel from national slavery through the Exodus. He made covenants with the people through which they were to show His righteousness and goodness to surrounding nations and all the world. But they failed. One generation after another rejected God and His ways. Israel’s disobedience led it directly into another period of slavery.
But God was not thwarted. This was part of His plan. He wanted to show that man needed not only His blessings and laws, but a new spirit and heart—which God promised to give. God would yet directly deal with the core issues that keep producing pain and hurt. Ultimately, this fundamental permanent change in the nature of man would come as Jeremiah prophesied: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant . . . I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:31; 33).
A critical, all-important step in the plan came about 2,000 years ago. God came to the earth as a man, as Jesus Christ, sent by the Father. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, man is redeemed. Man’s flaw is corrected in receiving a new nature through the Holy Spirit.
Now we begin to see real gain from God ’s perspective .
Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, men and women converted with this new nature will receive the gracious gift of immortality, which will include a new spirit body that will live forever. If you have God’s Holy Spirit living in you, here’s what you can expect : “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you” (Romans 8:11, New Revised Standard Version).
At the very end of the Bible, in the last chapter of the book of Revelation, the tree of life reappears (22:2, 14). This time its spiritual fruit—access to wondrous eternal life together with God the Father and Jesus Christ—is available to all! Thus, as we zoom out to an end-to-end view of the Bible’s story, we see—as part of God’s purpose in creating us to be His family forever—that the tree of life bookends humanity’s amazing journey.
As the Bible reveals, God is presently bringing many sons and daughters to glory (Hebrews 2:10). And you can be one of them!
When you see God’s perspective of what we in our limited view see in such a small way, you see His logical plan and love for all. It really does make sense. In facing some of the most difficult questions of life, the marvelous answers are right there in front of us. We just need to be able to see what God is showing us.
What a wondrous story we are part of! Keep studying God’s Word, live by it and gain from His perspective.