How we see or perceive things can vary tremendously depending on circumstances. For example, my wife and I just returned from a camping trip. The outhouse was just a few hundred feet from where we pitched our tent. During the day it was easy to see how to walk from our camp to the outhouse. But at night, everything was different. The outhouse itself blended so well into the background that it was difficult to see it from just a few feet away. It was easy to miss the path back to our tent. What had changed? Nothing, really. The outhouse was still in the same location. Our tent hadn’t moved. The paths were still n the same place. But the lack of light, even when the moon shone full, made everything look different. Shadows hid or changed the appearance of the bushes and trees. Familiar shapes were difficult to recognize.
In the same way, the lens through which we look at things can affect our perception of reality. For example, I am very short-sighted. Without my glasses it is extremely difficult for me to see very far. I can hardly see people on the other side of the room, let alone recognize them.
Just as with physical sight, our view of God can be very flawed or distorted by circumstances or our own biases. For example, some people have the idea that God is perpetually angry and vengeful. He is merely waiting for us to mess up so He can punish us or bring misery upon us. Other people are angry at God. They look at the pain and misery in the world and ask why God doesn’t stop it. They argue that because evil exists, God either cannot be all-powerful, or He isn’t loving.
But just as the glasses I wear enable me to see much clearer, we have a lens which helps us see God as He really is. In speaking of Christ, the prophet Isaiah writes, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6 NIV)
Yes, God does become angry at sin. Yes, God does say that vengeance belongs to Him. But Isaiah helps us to see things from a different perspective. God not only hates sin, He made a way for us to escape retribution and vengeance. If we will only choose to accept it, Jesus took our penalty on Himself.
In the same way, the existence of evil does not prove that God doesn’t care or is unable to do anything about it. On the contrary, from Isaiah we see that God loves us so much that He provided a way for us to overcome evil. According to the Apostle Peter, the reason God continues to put up with the evil we see all around us is that He’s giving everyone the opportunity to repent and accept the way of salvation from sin.
However, when we watch the news or when someone mistreats us, it is very difficult to keep things in perspective. It’s easy to forget that God loves us and is doing everything in His power, short of violating our free will, to give us a way out.
That’s one reason He’s given us a weekly reminder of reality. Jesus asked us to eat bread in memory of His sacrifice on our behalf. He asked us to drink grape-juice in memory of His blood which bought us freedom from sin. The Lord’s Supper is the lens which corrects our vision and helps us to see God as He really is.