Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh…
(NAS – 2 Corinthians 5:16)
My phone rings. I check caller ID…groan…roll my eyes and let it go to voicemail, because it’s that person calling again. Do you have this same friend? You know…the one that sucks the life out of you, burns through your patience in five seconds flat, and never takes your brilliant advice but keeps asking for more help? I may have a solution for you!
It’s all about perspective.
When you think about this person, what picture comes to mind? Is it past negative encounters? Is it their frustrating behaviors? Perhaps it is simply just a feeling of exhaustion. Whatever it is, whether you realize it or not, there is a filter over your heart that you are viewing them through. And it absolutely colors your experiences with them.
A filter is a transparent material that absorbs some colors while allowing others to pass through. For example, a green lens only allows green wavelengths of color to pass through and absorbs all other colors. If you carry a negative filter about a person, you will not be able to see anything good about them nor experience anything good with them.
Did you know that God has a filter when it comes to you? The good news is that His filter is the cross. The perspective from which God relates to you is not based on your old sin nature but on your having been made new and righteous in Christ, by Jesus’ completed work on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21). God sees you in your glorified future and relates to you today from that position. I think of it in this way: God holds in His heart an image of what we look like at the end of time (as He envisioned at the beginning). He has the blueprint of what He designed us to be, what He equipped us with, and where He has called us. It is from (and through) this perspective that He sees us and speaks to us today.
Becoming What God Intended
We see this in the story of Abraham. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning “father of many nations” even before Isaac was born. Abraham and his wife were physically incapable of having a child at the moment God said, “…I have made you a father of many nations” (NIV – Genesis 17:5). God was inviting Abraham on a journey with Him – walking into (and becoming) the very design God intended for his life.
Similarly, God addressed Gideon as “mighty warrior” even as he cowered in a winepress to escape detection by the enemy (Judges 6:11-12). Still, God called him something he was not (in the “now” of Gideon’s time) as though it truly was (according to His infinite realm of time) (Romans 4:17). God’s invitation to Gideon was simply to agree with Him and then start living from that place of agreement, believing God would provide all that was needed to walk out the call on his life.
I call this having Heaven’s perspective on someone. In fact, when we pray over people, we are offering them Heaven’s perspective – inviting them to come into agreement with God on the truth of who they are in Christ.
Your difficult friend? The same is true of them. God has a magnificent picture of them that is the foundation from which He relates to them.
Several years ago, I had a difficult person in my life that was just hard to be around. I actively avoided them, even dropping out of a discipleship group to keep my distance. I told myself I was being loving when I was around them, but it always required a good nap and a good mood to get through. Clearly, the “fruit of Colette” was running out quickly! I even piously prayed for this person – that the eyes of their heart would be opened, that God would grant them wisdom to see the effect they had on people, that they would find people to love them really well (other than me, of course). But nothing seemed to change.
A situation finally arose where I came unglued. I was awful and mean-spirited and said some pretty rough things to this person. I fled, horrified at what had come out of my mouth and heart (there’s that filter getting in the way again). I went before the Lord and asked for His forgiveness and guidance… Ultimately, God challenged me to ask for His perspective on this individual: His take on them; how He created and purposed them to be?
So, I took up my pen and started writing what He showed me. WOW! I was overwhelmed by His deep love and His intention toward them, His pleasure and design. I repented. I changed the way I’d been thinking about that person and started to come into agreement with His Heavenly perspective. God had me write out a word of encouragement for them, accompanied by an extravagant gift to represent His value of them.
From then on, when I encountered this person, I used God’s filter. I reminded myself what He had shown me. This wasn’t always easy, especially since their frustrating behaviors had not changed. Honestly, I had the fear of God in me to not smack-talk about His child anymore. In time, though, choosing to see and recognize Heaven’s perspective, I experienced a shift in our relationship. Would you believe that, today, this person has become a sweet place of connection for me?
So, my encouragement to you, as one who is in Christ with access to Heaven’s perspective, will you allow God to show you His version of the people in your life? Next time you encounter a difficult person, choose to respond to who they are in the spirit, not according to the flesh but according to His original design. You have an opportunity to partner with God and to pull His eternal truth into the here and now. And, if He asks you to act on it, be obedient! Who knows what kind of transformation will take place. It just takes a little change of mind and practice.