Can you see the hidden 3-D image?
Do you remember these stereogram three-dimensional images that were popular back in the 90’s? They’re a lot of fun!
I used to have a calendar with a new image for each day. I started each work day by viewing the new image. We even had a custom 3-D image created of our company logo for the back of our product catalog.
Can you see the three-dimensional image hidden in this picture?
If you haven’t seen the three-dimensional image yet, be patient and keep trying. You’ll know when you see it. It is a 3-D valentine that sort of pops right out at you, once you’ve got the right focal distance.
I see the 3-D images best by holding it close to my face and intentionally focusing past the page, looking deep into the picture. My most frequent mistake is not looking deep enough…staying too shallow and focusing on the details of the two-dimensional pattern rather than seeing the three-dimensional image revealed within the pattern.
We often make the same mistake in reading and interpreting scripture. We focus on the details of legalistic rules and completely miss seeing the heart of God on a given topic.
We come to the Bible with our own preconceptions, asking legalistic questions, looking for lists of rules of do’s and don’t’s and exception clauses. And…we find exactly what we’re looking for…while completely missing the real message…
As long as we are focused on the details of the rules, we cannot see past the rules. Worse, we sometimes see rules even where there aren’t any.
The autumn leaves in this stereogram are a pattern established for the purpose of revealing the deeper image of the three-dimensional heart. Once focused on the 3-D image, the foreground pattern is still clearly seen, but now in its proper perspective.
In the same way, the rules of behavior provided in scripture are a pattern established for the purpose of revealing God’s nature. As we draw closer to God’s heart, we can still clearly see the rules of behavior, but now in their proper perspective.
We must learn to look past the rules to the godly principles that govern the rules. Then we must look deeper still, past the principles to the character of God from whom the godly principles proceed.
As long as we are focused on the details of the rules, we will never look past the rules to see the heart of God!
This doesn’t mean we should disregard the details of scripture. On the contrary, we must study the details closely in order to see the pattern that allows us to gaze deeper, to discern the heart of God.
This is the fundamental message of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3: 23-26)
Through the rules, the heart of God is revealed, by faith in Him. The purpose of the rules are to lead us into fellowship with God.
If Jesus had focused on the rules of the Levitical Law, He would have handed over the woman caught in adultery
to be stoned to death. Looking past the rules to see the heart of God, He, instead, offered her grace.
In my post titled Asking the Right Questions
, I used one specific passage about marriage and divorce to illustrate how focusing on legalistic rules can cause us to completely miss God’s heart as revealed in a given passage.
Similarly, our various churches and denominations often become so focused on our own specific understanding of the proper procedures for baptism and communion that we miss the heart of God for unity within the body of Christ.
What are some other areas people miss God’s heart through focusing on rules?