Losing Our Christian Perspective

 
by Dr. Ken Matto
 
 
(Psa 73:2 KJV) But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.
 
We have all heard of the word "erosion." When something erodes, it is either eaten away or worn away. Erosion is a process whereby something which was once a thing of beauty, or a strong pillar of some type, has deteriorated. We have all seen or heard of beach erosion after a major storm comes in from the ocean and causes damage to the beach. Well, this is a parallel to our Christian walk. As we go on in years, the same type of situation can occur in each of us. Our secular lives, if we do not remain vigilant, can begin to erode our spiritual walk. I am not speaking of a loss of salvation, since that is an impossibility. I am speaking of becoming more enmeshed into the world's system than we want to be. This could happen because of adverse circumstances in our life which seem to be chronic. These chronicities can be manifested in a disease, a bad home situation, a bad job situation, or anything which may affect our lives on a major scale.
 
No true believer wakes up in the morning and says, "I think my Christian walk is going to erode today." Basically, what happens is a drifting process. Our Christian walk begins to erode gradually, and not necessarily on a voluntary basis.  In other words, we are not planning to sin. Sometimes chronic situations come into our lives, and then a gradual shift begins to occur. The situation is so overwhelming that we begin to start shifting more of our attention to the situation and less attention to our Christian walk. Well, don’t despair! In the 73rd Psalm, there was a man named Asaph who temporarily lost his perspective. Let us look at that Psalm and see if we can glean some principles.
 
 
What Happens When We Lose Our Christian Perspective
Whenever we lose our Christian perspective, a few things happen to us, which give us a clue that something has gone awry in our walk. Asaph suffered from a few of these and I am sure we can gain many parallels from them -- if not the actual situation, then definitely the principles.
 
 
Envy of Worldly Goods
(Psa 73:3 KJV) For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
 
Literally, the Hebrew is much stronger here as Asaph was saying that he was jealous of the prosperity and the boasting of the wicked. Asaph was, no doubt, looking at how they prospered in the world and comparing his life to theirs. He probably thought to himself that he was obeying God and serving Him, and it seemed that the blessing of God was going to the unbeliever, who has no regard for the things of God. Asaph made the mistake that many -- including myself -- have made, and that is, we assess the blessings of God as only being material in nature. Whenever we allow our worldly perspectives to overshadow our eternal perspectives, we will always come up short. In comparison to the number of rich unbelievers in the world, the amount of rich believers is small.
 
 
Envy of Worldly Health
(Psa 73:4 KJV) For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.
 
Asaph not only looked at the possessions of the wicked, but also their health. How many times I say to myself when I see people smoke, "I have trouble breathing, and here this person is throwing away their breath." Why do I take so many vitamins and herbs to sustain health, while there are those who live on fast foods and beer, yet maintain strong bodies? It seems the wicked do not even concern themselves with death: If it happens, it happens. The Christian is very sensitive to death, because we know the final destination of the wicked. The word "bands" really means pain. Asaph was referring to the wicked who seem to die without any fear or pain. I know many Christians, but I don’t think I can name you many healthy ones out of the group.
 
 
We Make Wrong Assumptions
(Psa 73:5 KJV) They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.
 
Whenever we depart from spiritual perspectives, we will always make erroneous assumptions concerning the lives of others. However, the truth of verse 5 shines through because unbelievers do not go against the ways of the world as the Christian does. The unbeliever is right in line with the ways of the world, and this is why it seems like they have no troubles. I have heard unbelievers say that abortion is fine, but when the believer refutes that, they are castigated mightily -- which means they have troubles. Just agree with every worldly scheme and you too will have no troubles.
 
 
We Only See The Side Of Christianity Which Produces Trials
(Psa 73:10 KJV) Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.
 
Whenever we seem to lose our Christian perspective, we tend only to dwell upon the negative aspects of our walk. What I mean by negative aspects is that if we are going through some type of situation, we are only looking at the present valley. Sometimes it feels like we are being wrung out. Did you ever see clothes go through a wringer? When I was younger, I watched my mother put clothes through a wringer which caused water to pour out of the clothes, and of course, flattened them. For those of you who never saw one, its purpose was akin to the spin or damp dry cycle on modern machines. We tend to forget the glorified side of our walk, which ends at the very throne of God Himself in Heaven where we will live eternally. We can become so frustrated that we will look at the world and say how easy we had it then. I have said many times," my problems didn’t start until I became a Christian." Oh, how shortsighted we can be.
 
 
We Begin To Wonder If God Really Cares
(Psa 73:11 KJV) And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?
 
Sometimes we get to the point in believing that God does not care. When we see the plans of the wicked become reality, we might even ask if God is on our side. It seems the wicked of this world has carte blanche to do as they wish, and it seems no one can stop them. If they plan a wicked or evil venture, it seems they can carry it out without opposition. I mean, look at the Word Trade Center disaster. We look at these things and ask, "Why does God let these things happen?"
 
 
We Believe Our Christian Walk Is Vain
(Psa 73:13 KJV) Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.
 
Then we look at our walk and say to ourselves, "I have been a Christian for a while and all I have is one problem right after another." We see the wicked prospering, and we are just about making it and we question, "Is the Christian life worth all these troubles and trials?" It seems the wicked always have enough of everything, but how many Christians suffer from diseases, unemployment, criticism, prejudice, and many other things which make for a woeful existence? I am sure Asaph was wondering where all the advantage was in following God. He probably wondered why the wicked had all the good things and the believers, the bad things.
 
We just saw six things which can throw a Christian off track if we begin to focus on the prosperity of the wicked. Once we begin to drift our emphasis on to the worldly and off the spiritual, we will suffer some reversible problems in our walk. Let us look at some of them and maybe you can identify these traits in your walk.
 
 
We Become Grieved And Quenched
(Psa 73:21 KJV) Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.
 
After a while, if we continue to become jealous of the unbeliever and all their worldliness, we will find that our Christian walk is quenched, because we have now shifted our focus from the spiritual to the secular. Our Christian walk is never completed in worldly things. As a matter of fact, our Christian walk will never be affected by any earthly thing, whether good or bad. Once we become secular Christians, we will lose the joy of our salvation, and the reason of our existence will become clouded.
 
Some of the other fruits of focus-shifting are:
 
1. Our Christian walk becomes frustrated - Whenever we shift our focus, our frustration level will increase. We will lose sight of our reason of existence, because we have allowed our Christian walk to be melded with our earthly sojourn. We don’t know if we should go to the right or to the left. It is during these times that we make our worse decisions, because we are viewing our life through an eclectic spiritual emphasis. It is when we see our life as a spiritual continuum, then we begin to make proper decisions.
 
 
2. We lose our spiritual fervor - Another tenet of losing our Christian perspective is that we lose our spiritual fervor. Since we do not know where we belong, we tend to cool down until we turn into the "frozen chosen." When once we looked for opportunity to serve the Lord, now we let them pass by and be given to another. We don’t lose our salvation, we lose our passion for service. After all, frozen mutton is still mutton.
 
 
3. We become apathetic - If there is one trait which pervades Christianity today, it is apathy. Apathy is simply "lack of concern or interest." Too many Christians are unconcerned beyond their holy hour of obligation on Sunday morning. As I write this article today, I was tossed off a Singles group on Yahoo, simply because I posted an article concerning our brethren in Pakistan who are receiving death penalties for bringing the truth of the Gospel. It is interesting to note that the person who wanted me off, and determined the article was "inappropriate," is a Lutheran Elder. Talk about self-absorbed apathy in high places in the church. What was my crime? -- Waking up 330 singles who had their head in the sand? Many Christians have become so apathetic, that anything beyond their Lilliputian world would send them into trauma.
 
 
4. Our Christian walk becomes dormant - If this happens, then, of course, it is not a walk. The dormant Christian does nothing. This type of Christian becomes miserable because they are avoiding their responsibility in the Great Commission. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. Dormancy in the Christian life is akin to a live person laying in a casket. You think they are dead, but you are not sure.
 
 
5. Bitterness begins to build - When we see other Christians being used of the Lord, we tend to compare our dormancy with their activity (antonym) and begin to resent their ministry. (Ruth 1:20 KJV) And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. Naomi thought the Lord was dealing bitterly with her. Many times when we become bitter, we tend to blame God for our situation. Bitterness is the lowest end of the Christian walk because it builds on a steady diet of acrimony, until it finally destroys a person -- both physically and emotionally.
 
Seeing what losing our Christian perspective can do to a Christian, it is imperative that we regain our Christian perspective, no matter where we are in our walk.
 
How Do We Regain Our Christian Perspective?
 
If we are once again going to live a productive and obedient Christian life, it behooves us to regain our Christian perspective as soon as we realize that we have lost it. I want to share with you three biblical truths, which will serve as your foundation for regaining your Christian perspective. Then I want to give you four principles, which, if you implant in your life, will help you on your return.
 
 
The wicked are here for only a season
(Job 20:5 KJV) That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?
 
Here is a sobering thought. In the context of eternity, the wicked will seem in control, but only for a short time. Unless any of them become saved, this will be the only pleasure they will experience. This is why the believer should not become overly depressed at the seemingly arrogant attitude of the unbeliever. God’s plans are toward the believer for a great eternity, even though for the time being, it looks bleak. Remember your unsaved family members. If they are not God’s elect, this is it for them. Try to make their earthly existence as comfortable as possible, even if it may cost you a little bit.
 
 
The beginning of our return
(Psa 73:16-17 KJV) When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; {17} Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
 
Obviously Asaph was confused at the fact that God even blesses the unbeliever with earthly goods. This troubled him, and probably for a long period of time. I am sure he did not wake up one morning and come to these conclusions by noon. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we learn much about the humanity of Asaph, and what troubled him, troubles many of us today. I have wondered many times why unbelievers are allowed to possess massive amounts of the world’s goods, and yet missionaries have to come off the field to raise support.
 
Asaph definitely was troubled by this situation, but it did not rule nor consume his entire life. (Psa 73:21 KJV) Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. He gives us the insight on how he began to return to spiritual sanity. We find this insight in verse 17. When he went into the sanctuary of God, his spiritual understanding returned. This does not mean that just because he went back to the temple, he received instant understanding. This principle, as we apply it today, tells us that for understanding of any kind of earthly situation, it is necessary for us to return to the Word of God and embrace the teachings. Many times, Christians drift from the teachings of Scripture and this causes them to neglect the difference between the spiritual and the profane. When this happens, the profane will normally edge out the spiritual, since the profane is the visible aspect of life.
 
If we are going to understand the world and its circumstances, then we must be ceaseless students of the Bible. It is when we study the Bible and look at the world through God’s eyes, will we have better understanding. Keep in mind that the Bible comes from the mind of God and gives the Christian the perspectives of God. If we are to regain our Christian perspective, then it is necessary for a return to the Word of God.
 
 
Repentance is needed
(Psa 73:22 KJV) So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.
 
Continual repentance of thought is needed. The word "repentance" means a change of mind, and that change is 180 degrees. A person doesn’t repent just once, it must be a constant vigil. Since we are being bombarded with all kinds of thought patterns everyday, it is necessary that we learn the principle of repentance of thought. That is done by filtering whatever we hear through the Word of God, plus, if we are remaining vigilant in our study of Scriptures, the Holy Spirit will let us know if something is not right. If we entertain a notion of accepting a wrong thought, it can be cut off before it does us any harm. Our thought life is intimately keyed to our outward Christian perspective. The more scripturally-based our mind becomes, the easier it will be to assess an earthly situation.
 
 
Principles to help your return
One of the primary ways to return to a Christian perspective is to be introspective. It is necessary to really examine our Christian walk. You see, the Bible and the principles God gives in the Scriptures has not changed. It is our fickle nature which changes every day and without a stabilizing factor in our life, we will be, as the Scriptures teach, tossed around by every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14).
 
Look at the very thing which you allowed to draw you away
(Psa 73:3 KJV) For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
 
It is important that we go back and investigate the very thing which we allowed to usurp the place of God in our life. Oh yes, whenever something destabilizes our Christian walk, in essence, we have walked away from God. I am not speaking of loss of salvation, but loss of perspective. In Asaph’s case, it was the prosperity of the wicked which caused him to stumble. He mistook physical blessings as being equal to spiritual blessings. There is an eternal dichotomy between physical and spiritual blessings. This is easily seen in the narrative of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16. The rich man had all the physical blessings a human could want. Excessive physical blessings can easily blind a person to their need of salvation and the accompanying spiritual blessings. Here is the dichotomy between them. The physical blessings lasted only as long as the rich man was alive, but the spiritual blessings, which Lazarus received, went on into eternity. Obviously, this was the final conclusion that Asaph came to when he finally realized that the wicked do not have a bright future.
 
Some of the poorest believers in the world are spiritually blessed of the Lord in a mighty way. If one looks at the African church and listens to the reports that missionaries from Africa bring back, they will hear of people who possess almost nothing in the way of worldly goods, yet are alive and joyful in the Lord. In some African churches, you can expect a 6 hour worship service. Can you imagine a 6 hour worship service in America? Why, that would cut in to football or baseball time on Sunday afternoon. I know I would not attend a church like that, because I might miss something of eternal value which would be spoken by some sports announcer.
 
Once you identify the very thing which caused you to lose your Christian perspective, you will also identify a series of events which followed that initial event which curtailed your Christian perspective. Now we can’t go back to regain lost time.   Instead, we must look at where we are at present and begin to make some comparisons which will help us regain our spiritual fervor and perspective. In other words, rendering us useful for the Kingdom of God again.
 
 
REGAINING OUR CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE...
 
 
In Light Of Salvation
(Eph 2:12 KJV) That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
 
Here is a verse which plainly details that the unbeliever does not have God in this world. They are reprobates, and in comparison to the beauty of salvation which the Lord has given His children, these people have nothing. If they have all the money and wealth in the world, it means nothing without salvation, for when their end comes they shall be of all, miserable. (Prov 13:7 KJV) There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches. This verse is a great summation. The unsaved rich of this world believe they have everything, yet they have nothing. Those who are true believers, who have little of the world’s goods, possess everything.
 
 
In Light Of Eternity
(Mat 25:46 KJV) And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
 
The unbeliever will not know any joys beyond this life. For them, this is it. This is why we are not to envy them, because if we envy them, in essence, we are saying we envy eternal damnation and loathe eternal life. As believers, we will suffer in this life and many times, at the hands of the rich. God says that we are under His protection, and the end of the unbeliever is sure. (2 Th 1:7-10 KJV) And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, {8} In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: {9} Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; {10} When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
 
 
In Light Of Our Calling
(1 Cor 1:26 KJV) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
 
We see that not many of the noble, or rich class of people, are called into eternal life. In fact, if you look at many ministries, you will find that God built His Kingdom on nickels and dimes. The calling of poor people to eternal life means that God will be depended on for everything. This is how it should be for the believer. The unsaved rich believe they are self-sufficient because they have much money to buy themselves out of any predicament. Have you ever heard of the term "self-made millionaire?" If they think they are self-made, I have only one question. Did they choose their mother? The calling of the believer is to send forth the Gospel to the four corners of the earth. The rich unbeliever only cares about one thing: Making more money. It consumes them till the day they die. The wealthy unbeliever forgets that all the world belongs to God. (Psa 24:1 KJV) The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
 
 
In Light Of Our Relationship To God
(Psa 73:25 KJV) Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
 
Here is Asaph realizing that his help is from God in Heaven. What greater companion can we have than the God of the universe. The wicked unbelievers gather themselves to themselves to give godless counsel to each other, but God says that the wisdom of the foolish will be destroyed. (1 Cor 1:19 KJV) For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. But the wisdom that God gives His children is eternal and high above every form of worldly wisdom. Asaph realized that God in Heaven is sufficient for all needs here on earth, and when a person has Christ in their life, they need not desire anything else -- such as Buddha or Islam, which can neither offer eternal life, nor wisdom for the child of God. Christians are sons and daughters of God. What higher position can this world offer to any human being? The false gods of wealth and egoism lead to eternal destruction.
 
 
Final Thoughts
Whenever we factor into our thinking our salvation, eternity, calling, and relationship to God, we will once again re-gain our Christian perspective. Normally, the believer is not really that far off the narrow path, because even when we go astray, the Holy Spirit is still indwelling us and causing our conscience to be grieved whenever we sin. We must be like Asaph and return to the house of God. In other words, let us return to the Word of God and replenish our spiritual thinking, so that it may displace the worldly thinking which has taken over for a while. It is time to cleanse the temple and say with Asaph:
 
But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.
                                                                                                                                        -(Psa 73:28 KJV)

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