My greatest takeaway from seminary was not a certain thread of theology or knowledge to wow the masses. My greatest takeaway was the ability to see the lens by which I view the world. The idea that I could be viewing the world through only one possible filter never crossed my mind before my first semester in seminary. It wasn’t that I couldn’t see other perspectives as valid, but I could not validate them because I could not appreciate the lens by which someone else was seeing the world.
For instance, I am a worship pastor. I listen to a lot of music from mainstream, to worship to straight-up Christian pop. I have learned that I have a lens by which I listen to and judge music.
- Is it singable in a congregation?
- Would it work for my congregation?
- Does it say ‘something’?
- Does it have a beat I prefer?
- Is it instrumentally complex or interesting?
- Is it popular (not a big turn-on for me)?
When I get into conversations with others about music, I have to remember (and regularly fail to do so) my lens. I listen to music for a specific purpose. Is it fun to play? Does it excite me? Does it shift my mood? Does it fit my mood? I have a lens.
The most prominent lens right now is a political one. What shapes my view of America; what is it and what should it be? The answers to those questions shape the lens by which I view political candidates.
All of this is fueled by my Christian worldview lens. It differs from the lens of an evolutionist (survival of the fittest) or an existentialist (the world is absurd and each individual is to give it his/her own meaning) or any other of a myriad of worldview. I come at the world from the lens of God as Creator, who sees the world as good simply because he created it and, through Christ, has redeemed it. My lens to view the world is different and this lens shapes who I am and what I believe.
Explore your lens and appreciate that it is yours. It is developed through your own set of experiences and garnered knowledge. When we understand our own lens we are able to navigate the world with more grace and courage as we build relationships with people whose lens differs from our own.