What problem or situation are you facing today? Perhaps there is a personal, relational, or financial circumstance before you. Your frame of reference will determine the ease or difficulty of navigating it. What is your standard for judging or deciding what you are to do? What is your guideline or touchstone for focusing your perspective?

For the work which we are engaged in the church our touchstone is God. One cannot start with a larger frame of reference. However, often we fail to attend to what God may be doing in our work.

Chapter 10 in John’s Gospel has been an orienting text for me recently. It provides all the elements for properly calibrating perspective.

  • The reality of opposition
  • The entry of a hero
  • Trust built upon sacrifice
  • Trust built upon security

The thief comes. Problems pop up. Challenges arise. Granted, not every difficulty is from the evil one. But God has opposition to his work in the world. As we participate in what God is doing we can expect the same. We should never forget that.

More importantly, Jesus has come. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” There is a kind of abundant life that God has come to bring you. Dallas Willard says, “Life is the power to act and respond in specific kinds of relations.” He gives the illustration of the different kinds of life between vegetables, animals, people, and God. If a ball of string was set in front of a head of cabbage there would be no interaction because the kind of life in cabbage cannot relate to a ball of string. If that ball of string was set before a kitten there would be interaction because the kitten is full of the life of play. Set a poem in front of the kitten and there would be no response, because animals are dead to the realm of poetry. But a person can respond to poetry. Similarly, a relationship with God is necessary to respond to the abundant life Jesus came to bring.

A common expression of how we respond to the life of God is hearing his voice. Relationship with God must have priority. This only comes by hearing God’s voice, being oriented to his perspective. John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” God speaks. We know where we are and where we are going by God’s voice. There are competing voices and if we don’t have an ear for his voice we will be distracted or deceived and, at worse, destroyed.

God wants us to know what he is doing. John 10:14-15 says, “I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” We can trust what God is doing, knowing he was willing to enter the problem.

We can be confident in God’s work and that we are being brought toward his permanent purpose. John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” God has a secure grip on you. You are destined for life with God. You can trust your life in God’s hand.

Whatever circumstance is before you today, how does calibrating it to the purposes of God change your perspective?

1. Room for only small thoughts of God

2. Calvin’s metaphor of the ladder

3. God can’t be kept out