Monday, July 6, 2009

Are You Looking at the Beam, or Along It?

Recently I've been struggling with a topic that other Christians can possibly relate to. As followers of Christ, we are instructed to boast only in Him, but I sometimes feel guilty taking pleasure in certain things of this world. I'm a girl, so I'm into clothing and hair, and I love to watch movies and use technology like cell phones and computers. I try to keep myself in check in all these areas--i.e. focusing on inner beauty and being cautious about what movies I see--and I know that it isn't necessarily sinful to enjoy these things, but I wasn't sure why. Then I read chapter 3 of Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper and got a better understanding of material things in relation to keeping Christ first. The main verse that was quoted in this particular chapter was Galatians 6:14: "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

This Bible here makes it pretty clear that as new creations set apart from this world, Christ should be our single boast. Does that make it wrong for us to have fun dressing up or texting a friend? Can Christ still be our only boast then? Piper lays out a beautiful explaination that addresses this whole concept. He elaborates about how God can be glorified through all the blessings and aspects of our lives. To refrain from quoting everything he said, I'll just repeat an illustration he used from C.S. Lewis that I found particularily eye-opening.

These are Lewis' words: "I was standing today in the dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it.
Then I moved, so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, nintey-odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences. ~From "Meditation in a Toolshed"

Jesus has blessed us with many wonderful things for our enjoyment, but the clincher is where we're looking. If we're looking "at the beam" in Lewis' case, we fail to acknowelge our Creator--the one who has, in fact, bestowed us with our great gifts. If we're looking "along the beam," that's quite a different story. In the latter example, our focus goes past the object of enjoyment and straight to God. In other words, we're worshipping the Creator instead of the Created.

I could go on, but I think I'll stop here. I just wanted to share this particularily insightful piece with you.

Matthew 6:21
Ellie V.

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