“What or whom we worship determines our behaviour.” John Murray
The eclectic line of people silently stretched as far as the eye could see away from the building. Persons from all walks of life were present: the old, the young, the rich, the poor, the powerful, and the powerless, some with hats in hand and heads bowed low, others with their noses up in the air. From time to time, the building’s front doors would open, but only long enough to admit the next one waiting in line to enter.
Once inside, each person found themselves alone in a large, silent auditorium illuminated by a single window. A sense of reverence permeated the room. “Hello, is anyone there?” they half-whispered as their eyes anxiously scanned the room for a felt but not seen presence. The silence quickly returned as the faint echoes of their question disappeared. Hearing no reply, they turned their attention to the light offered by the window, which drew them ever closer. A few pressed their noses against the glass, while others stood back at varying distances gazing at the outside world they had just left. Suddenly a voice, remarkable in its gentle nature, enveloped the entire room, saying, “What are your thoughts about the world as you look through the window? What do you see?”
So many people, so many uniquely individual answers to the question, as one might guess. Yet, despite the diversity found in such a large crowd, their answers leaned in one of two directions.
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Some pursue the world as if it’s a prize or trophy to be obtained for personal gain without regard for the cost. It’s an enticing but ultimately deceptive take-no-prisoners lifestyle approach that leaves misery and regret in its wake sooner or later.
“The world is my oyster.” (A well-known, slightly modernized quote from Shakespeare’s, The Merry Wives of Windsor)
I can’t help but think about the “old” Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dicken’s beloved “A Christmas Carol” before he experienced the visitation of the three Christmas spirits.
“Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.” Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Now there’s some irony for you, eh? Those who view the world as their oyster for the taking become an oyster themselves, desperately clutching a pearl of their making, unwilling and afraid to share it with anyone else.
“We become what we behold.” William Blake, Jerusalem
Is such a solitary oyster-like existence all that surprising, given such persons view themselves as life’s singular, all-important reference point around which the world orbits? The voracious flock of seagulls from the animated movie “Finding Nemo” immediately come to mind, loudly squawking, “Mine, mine, MINE!” as they coveted the objection of their affection.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 (NKJV)
And therein lies sadness and danger if the treasures we hold near and dear to us are solely self-serving.
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26 (NKJV)
“We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life. We’ve added years to life, not life to years.” George Carlin
In due course, the knife called unavoidable pries the precious pearl from deep within the oyster loose, it now intended for another’s hands. How can we be so foolish and short-sighted?
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 1 Timothy 6:7 (NKJV)
Ah, but this is graciously no ordinary window that beckons us ever nearer to embrace the life-changing view of the world it offers. Perhaps you noticed the cross in the window immediately, as did I. It reminds us that a vibrant relationship with God through Jesus is the gateway to truth and meaning as we go about our daily lives interacting with the world through eyes, hearts, and minds other than our own.
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 (NKJV)
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 (NKJV)
Jesus is the window, the True North we seek, through which radiant hope shines for a darkened and despairing world.
All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:8-10 (NKJV)
He shows us a still better way of viewing and engaging with the world.
“I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35 (NKJV)
“It’s about how we can love people, how we can make a difference for other people. I really believe in God’s economy, which is different than how we talk about our economy. In our economy, in order to have more, you take more. But in God’s economy-you give more.” Tim Tebow
And now it is your turn to enter through the doors into the room set aglow by the light streaming in through the single window. As you gaze out through the window, the gentle voice asks, “What are your thoughts about the world as you look through the window? What do you see?”
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33 (NKJV)
Start Right Here by Casting Crowns (single version)