It’s time for us to reset our sense of perspective. Perspective, literally, is when nearby objects seem larger to us than those that are far away. I demonstrated perspective to my granddaughter recently by holding up my thumb and asking her to compare its size with some cars in the distance. We both knew, of course, that the cars were bigger than my thumb, even though from our point of view my thumb seemed larger. One of great advances of the Renaissance was the use of perspective in art. Before then, artists portrayed everything as the same size, regardless of how far away they were.
Many things in our lives appear to be bigger and more consequential than they really are, simply because they happen to be what’s right in front of us. An everyday household chore may seem to be more important than our relationship with a distant friend, because we see the sink full of dirty dishes but the friend is only somewhere in the back of our mind. It is good, of course, to have a tidy kitchen. But friends are more important than plates and bowls. We know that, but somehow we struggle to find the time to make the phone call or send the email.
As we travel through this month of October, the upcoming election is going to loom bigger and bigger in our lives. As rancorous and divisive as the political battlefield has become, it’s hard to imagine how things could get worse, but that very well may happen. Already, political disagreements have caused tensions in families and have strained once-close relationships. Angry interactions can no longer even be considered to be debates, because no one listens to anyone who doesn’t already agree with them. All we seem interested in doing is yelling at people from “the other side.”
Perspective. Cars are bigger than thumbs. Friendships are more important than dirty dishes. And people are more important than politics. This is not just my opinion: this is what our Lord Jesus himself demonstrated in his atoning death. Christ died for people. In doing so, he not only revealed the incalculable preciousness of each person, but he increased our value by raising us up to be the children of God. Psalm 49:7-8 tells us “No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them – the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough.” What had not yet been revealed to the psalmist is that there is only one payment that is ever enough for a person’s life; 1 Peter 1:18-19 proclaims “It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed … but with the precious blood of Christ.” Nothing on the face of the earth in the minds of people could ever compare to that.
Christ died for people. He did not die for institutions or ideologies, for politics or positions of power, for countries or constitutions. As important as each of these may seem to us, they cannot compare to the value of each person’s soul. Your life, and the life of that person whom God wants you to touch with his grace and love, matters more than all the kingdoms of the earth or all the wealth of Wall Street. I encourage you to keep this perspective in mind as we draw closer to November 3.