How is Your Vision?
Preparing a study of the first two chapters of Luke I was struck by Luke’s positive attitude. The people Luke wrote about in those chapters – Mary, Zachariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, the angel Gabriel – were excited and hopeful in outlook. Optimistic and forward thinking in their understanding of God and His plans for the world. The angel Gabriel and the hosts of heaven – who certainly knew what was going on in the universe – proclaimed not gloom and doom but God’s goodness and his gracious intentions for the human race. Human and divine messengers united in a single message of hope, optimism and good feelings.
It all started with Gabriel appearing to Zacharias. “Don’t be afraid…God has heard your request.” Gabriel goes on to tell how the miracle baby soon to be born must be named John because he “will turn the hearts of many back to God and the children to their fathers.” When Elizabeth, the barren old wife of Zacharias, conceived she praised God saying “He has taken away my disgrace!” Several months later the miraculously pregnant Mary visits Aunt Elizabeth and bursts into exultant praise of God. She sings of God, proclaiming him savior, mighty one, holy and merciful keeper of promises. Then at the birth of John Zachariah blessed the name of God, proclaiming God as savior, merciful, holy, righteous and keeper of promises. Then after the birth of Jesus, old Simeon sees the baby Jesus, takes him into his arms and gives thanks that he has lived long enough to see God’s salvation, prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to foreigners and the glory of Israel.
Luke’s Gospel overflows with hope and gratitude! Missing from Luke is doom, gloom, despair and God’s heavy hand raised against rebellious sinners. Luke’s attitude reminds us that God takes no pleasure in negativism, in death and heavy handed treatment of sinners. How is it that? Didn’t they (God and Luke) know all the bad things that happen in the world? Didn’t they understand prophetical insight necessitates condemning all that is wrong in this corrupt and this rebellious world? Why do THEY gloss over the coming world economic collapse, impending wars, doom, gloom, despair and judgment? Why are they so different from many of us?
I think Luke was different because the Church of his day was different. NOT because the times were better – they were not. What Luke did was this: he focused upon what God was doing to make people and the world a better place. Luke observed lives being changed, he saw enormous spiritual progress taking place wherever Holy Spirit empowered believers went. Luke traveled with people who knew Jesus and were living out the word of God as Kingdom infused disciples. Of course they understood all was not well in the world! Their positivism was not denial of reality, it was a transformation in mindset away from fascination with the negative to God-infused love for what was pure and holy and positive.
Consider Mary’s song. Although she acknowledged the problems in the world she EXALTED in God, proclaiming “God is my savior, his name is holy, his mercy is from generation to generation.” Acknowledging what is not good, EXALTING in what is good. Can we do as Mary did, exalt in God our savior who is holy and merciful from generation to generation? Can we – do we want to – put away our carnal fascination with what is negative, pessimistic and delights in coming judgment? I hope so, because if we cannot do so we – not God – will bring all those things upon ourselves. It’s all a matter of focus, what we fix our eyes upon.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your vision is poor, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23 (Berean Study Bible)
June 3, 2017