Seeing Life Through the Lens of the Gospel
I love stories. I easily get lost in a good book or a compelling movie. But I have noticed that I tend to filter the story that I’m reading or watching through my experience or my current mood. If I see the lack of justice in the world around me, then seeing someone wrongly accused in a crime drama will affect me more than normal. When I’m experiencing unresolved conflict in my own life, then watching a series finale with a less-than-satisfying conclusion will only leave me frustrated, rather than entertained. (I’m looking at you, Lost.)
Likewise, I can easily allow my life to color or distort the lens through which I read Scripture. If I am feeling misunderstood, I easily project that onto someone like Martha (Luke 10:38-42)—“She was just trying to help! Is that so bad?”—or Uzzah touching the ark (2 Samuel 6:5-8)—“He was just trying to help! And he died!”
If I read Scripture through a distorted, self-focused lens, I will inject my own biases into my interpretation of the text. God becomes a background character while I put myself forward as the main protagonist. For better or worse, we all read and interpret the Bible through a lens. But how do we see it through the right lens? Or how do we clean our lens?
In Luke 15:11-32, we read the story of the prodigal son and the older brother. The younger son demands his inheritance, squanders it foolishly, and comes back to his father. His father sees him from a distance and, instead of feeling indignation or anger, he feels compassion for his wayward son. He calls for the finest clothes and a celebration—his son has been reconciled!
Then we see the Pharisaical reaction of the older son. Seeing the celebration of his brother’s return, he bitterly questions, why didn’t he receive a celebration for his years of obedience? Both sons were viewing their circumstances through a distorted lens, clouded and streaked with their own sin, suffering, and unmet expectations. The older son’s pride elevated his view of himself as well as distorted his view of his father’s love. The younger son’s sin deceived him into thinking his father was withholding good from him.
So which son needs redemption in this story? Both of them. Through a gospel lens, both need to see more clearly the great love they’ve both been given by their father. Likewise, we need the story of redemption as a reminder of what God has already accomplished for us by the perfect life and death of Jesus Christ. We need to be reminded of what God has promised for us, both now and in the life to come.
Redemption: Seeing life through the lens of the gospel
How often are we using a distorted lens to interpret Scripture and our circumstances? More importantly, how can we know if we are seeing things clearly?
Redemption Groups is a ministry at Providence that helps you to see yourself and God more clearly. It’s for anyone who wants to clean their gospel lens, so to speak. The number one question we get is, “Is this a ministry for me? Who benefits from Redemption?” Redemption is for followers of Christ who desire to grow in holiness. It’s a place where you walk closely with other brothers or sisters in Christ to see the story of redemption in your own life.
Do you struggle with bitterness like the older son? Redemption is for you.
Have you wandered away from God and desire to come back like the younger son? Redemption is for you.
Have you dealt with the effects of someone’s sin against you?
Do you struggle with self-righteousness?
Do you feel stuck in your relationship with God?
Have you seen yourself as the main character in your story, while God is a background actor?
Redemption is for you.
Like the Israelites in the wilderness after their rescue from Egypt—freed from slavery but not yet home—we Christians live in an “in-between”. Behind us is the cross and the forgiveness of our sins. Ahead of us is the promise of a new heaven and a new earth, free of pain and suffering. Between the two is the tension of experiencing joy and freedom in Christ while also enduring difficult seasons of life and sin struggles. Redemption Groups give us space to process the struggles of the “in-between” and to be reminded that God has always been present in our life and will stay with us throughout our journey home.
Editor's Note: The fall session of Redemption Groups kicks off the weekend of October 4-5, and will meet on Tuesday evenings October 8-November 12. The session will conclude with a meeting on Saturday, November 16 and a celebration service on Sunday, November 17. To register for Redemption Groups, visit providencefrisco.com/redemption.