On Monday evening, I posted the above photo on Facebook. I want to take a few minutes to explain this photo and why I posted it.
The photo is about perspective.
Following the photo post, I received a number of reactions—everything from, “That’s amazing” to “What the heck?” to “That photo blew my mind” to “I finally figured it out, but why did you flip it upside down?” One friend was even gracious enough to suggest that it’s his favorite image of mine (but that’s subjective of course).
I literally sat on our couch staring at that image for about an hour before I posted it. My wife Carolyn can attest to that. In its original landscape portrait, the snapshot is simply a pretty set of trees and snow reflecting onto a dark river (in Coldstream, Ontario).
But when you flip the image around, something sublime happens. Well, at least I think it’s sublime.
You’re left staring at the image trying to make sense of it. It’s not like a photo of a person, where you would immediately recognize the photo is upside down. It makes you do a double-take.
Here is what got me: the things that were once trees are no longer trees. They’re roots. Some of the roots are deep, while others are not. Inversely, on the top of the photo, there are trees. But because of the ripples in the water (or in this case, heavenly realm), the image of the trees is blurry.
From a biblical perspective, allow me to put this into context. The roots represent us, and the decisions we make on a daily basis. The trees on the other hand, represent everything we are sowing here on earth—being reaped by us in heaven. Although we can’t see heaven right now (as visualized by the blurriness of the upper portion of the image), one thing is very clear: the decisions we make here on earth have a direct relation to our life in heaven.
So many Christians I know are satisfied with just being saved. Don’t get me wrong... I’m stoked too! By the grace of God, we are saved. (Ephesians 2:8) We are hopeless without Christ. I agree! But I’m talking beyond that. As Christians, if that’s where we stop, we are robbing ourselves and we’re robbing God.
I mean, imagine if a professional athlete made the cut for his or her favorite sports team. Would they be satisfied with making the team, or would they actually want to make an impact?
Or what about a person who God gave some money and time to? Would they be satisfied that it was God that gave it to them? Or would they want to invest His money wisely? (Be careful how you answer that question.)
Jesus addresses this exact situation in The Parable of the Talents:
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:14-30, ESV)
So many Christians will say to themselves, “Thank God I’m not the person who buried their talent.”
But let me ask you this. If you know that what you invest in here on earth—in the limited time you have—has a direct impact on what your life will be like in heaven, shouldn’t that make a difference in the decisions you’re making right now?
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV)
At our church we have a question that we ask each other from time to time: How are you using your MATEO? It simply means, “How are you using your Money, Abilities, Time, Energy and Opportunities?”
Are you using your money to increase your personal wealth? Or are you using your money to help others and to advance the gospel?
Are you using your time to sit on the couch? Or are you using your time to build into the things God has called you to?
These are all decisions that each one of us gets to make on a daily basis. It’s a privilege that God’s given us. Each and every decision has an impact.
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. (2 Corinthians 9:6, ESV)
Live for the now or live for eternity. Something each of us must decide on our own.
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7, ESV)