I stood at a great height on the beach cliffside. I had climbed up to get a better view. My curious dog followed. In the distance stood this man and his dog so I took a photograph.
At that moment I saw a man in comparison to the world around him. On the one hand, a man likes to think of himself as master of the universe. All his scientific and technological achievements blind him from seeing what he truly looks like in the eyes of God and the world. It is not until he is shown a photograph of himself does he begin to realize who is the real master.
We are so used to the day-to-day tasks that we tend to forget our place in the world. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Biblical wisdom contained in the scriptures show us ourselves from a different angle. When we read the Gospels we are given a different image of ourselves, one we are not used to. For some, the image is inspiring and refreshing, and for others a painful one they’d rather bury.
Jesus Himself comes into our hearts and shows us what we truly look like from a different angle. The Gospel and wisdom of Jesus unveil the ego of a sinful man showing him how he truly is and what he looks like not only to the world but to God.
When we accept that we are not masters of the universe, only then do we truly begin to live. In my world of photography, some of my female subjects think they’re ugly. “I’m ugly,” they say. Then I take a photograph of them from a different angle, showing them how they truly are. They begin to realize they’re not ugly at all now they’ve seen themselves from a different angle.
This is what the Lord wants to do with us through his prophets and the Gospel. Through his Divine words, he presents to mankind how it looks right now. Sometimes that image is not always pretty but over time the Divine Photographer (Holy Spirit) fills us with His Grace. Through time as we move here and there is an attempt to follow his directions we into the right position.
Now the Divine Photographer can take another picture and we get to see ourselves from a Divine angle. In this perfect position of Grace, the Lord shows us an image of how we truly appeared before the fall in all our beauty. We are beautiful but sin has made us ugly.
We’ve only ever seen ourselves from the angle the world and all its pleasures shows us fooling ourselves into thinking we are beautiful. However, when taken down a peg or two and the Divine Photographer hands us the inspiring photograph of how we truly appear, it can motivate us to greater things.
Have you ever went on holiday and stepped foot into a new country, culture and world? The architecture is different, the climate has changed (hot or cold) and the people speak a new language. Do you remember how it felt doing that and the excitement that goes along with it? Do you remember your enthusiasm for exploring all the old streets for the first time?
That is how the spiritual world looks. When we walk into a beautiful Orthodox Church or open the Gospels for the first time, we step into a new world. Everything is different. There’s so much exploring to do. Being allowed to see oneself and the world from another angle than we’ve been used to is very important to advance in spiritual life. The leap from sin to Grace sometimes comes in the form of either seeking out a different perspective of oneself or being invited to do so by a friend.
“Come and see,” says Jesus in the Gospel to his disciples. Yes, “Come and see” what? Come and see yourself how God sees you. Come and see for yourself how you truly look. At first, you’ll see something hideous but through time and Grace, the Divine photographer will show you how you appear before Him. Yes, he will position you in such a way that you see yourself as a beautiful creature of nobility destined for a place in his heavenly kingdom.