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What's Your Lens?

Updated: Mar 3

The Alpena News


DEC 23, 2023


Everyday Faith

Pardon me for nerding out a little bit this week, but, after teaching literature for more than 30 years, some things simply become ingrained in you.

When you go to read a book, do you just read the book? Or do you take a little time to learn about the author?

One of the lessons that I was pretty emphatic about was teaching my students to always consider the lens of the author: Who were they? When did they live? Where did they live? What historical events occurred during their lifetime? What was their view on the world?

Now, as an author, myself, I know that, when people go to buy a book, they really aren’t that detailed in their approach. Typically, I have 30 seconds or less to hook a potential buyer.

In today’s world, what matters when it comes to books?

The cover has to be engaging. The title has to be thought-provoking. The summary on the back has to spark an interest. If the cover and the title aren’t engaging, the casual reader may not even turn the book over to look at the back cover.

But what’s interesting is that, once a reader has read a book and enjoyed it, he or she will look for other titles published by the same author. The focus shifts from what the book is about to who wrote the book. If you trust the author, then you’ll go back time and again to them to read his or her work.

Well, I would like to pose a simple question: Whose book is the Bible?

Now, you might want to make this super complex and discuss all of the different people who contributed to the writing and how much time it took, but the simple answer is it’s God’s.

Why does it matter to think this through?

Because many people read the Bible like it’s a “self- help” book, without considering the author’s perspective.

In other words, they read the stories of the Bible, imposing themselves into the storyline, thinking, “What would I have done if I were them?”

Well, that’s actually a good thing to do to get into the character’s skin, but don’t lose sight of the fact that God is the author of the Bible. That means it’s His story, and He is the one who wrote the book.

What we really need to be thinking about as we read scripture is, “What does this story reveal about the character of God?” … Pause and think … “What does the story reveal about the character of God?”

Now, let’s dive in a little more specifically.

At Christmastime, we think through Mary’s role in the birth of Christ. We contemplate what it meant to be Joseph. We might think about the Wise Men. We might look at things through the shepherds’ eyes. We might look at it through each of those character’s perspectives, but if we shift our focus and think about what the Christ story reveals about God, we might have a better understanding of our relationship with Him.

For instance, what does it show about God that he foretold Christ’s birth hundreds of years before it happened? What does it show that God used a star to guide the Wise Men to Christ’s location? What does it mean that God didn’t rely on the governing system (the Romans) to bring a new ruler into the world? What does it mean that God used people of lowly stature to bring the message of hope to a darkened world? What does it mean that God was working in the midst of Bethlehem’s chaos, with the census being taken, and the people didn’t even know it at the time?

Those are just a few of the questions I have.

But, rather than focusing on the individual characters of the Christmas story, maybe we should step back and look at that story through the lens of the author and ask ourselves, “What does all of this reveal about God?”

Some simple conclusions that I draw from the few questions that I have posed is that God knows well in advance before we know how His story is going to turn out. God uses our natural world to forward events he deems necessary. God doesn’t need our political leaders or rulers to accomplish his will. God sees value in what society deems the lowest of the low. God is at work in our busy midst, even when we don’t know it.

Ask away.

Ask your questions about the birth of Christ, considering what they reveal about the author.

I’m going to guess that you are going to find at the end of your questions a Father who loves his people deeply and has sacrificed immensely, so that his people might be restored to a right relationship with him through the birth of his son, Jesus.

It really is an incredible story — one worth thinking through — to figure out what this reveals about the author!

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