My first look through a telescope was magic.
I was an elementary kid and although I knew what a telescope was, I’d never seen anything through them. But when a teenager focused his telescope on our moon—wow!
I saw things I never knew was there. The smudges I’d seen on the surface of the moon were actually craters. There were mountains and valleys. It was amazing!
The moon always looked like that, but on that day, it looked different to me. There are similarities between my “telescopic experience” and the situation the Apostle Paul found himself in the letter to the Philippians.
We read in Philippians 1:20-26:
20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
Philippians 1:13 stated that because Paul was in prison, Jesus was known to others. In spite of the criticism Paul was facing, Jesus was being taught to others (Philippians 1:18). And now Paul tells us that because of his predicament with Rome, Jesus was being exalted (Philippians 1:20)!
Whether he was executed by Rome or was released, Paul won. He won because the mission he was given by Jesus was being accomplished.
Yet he knew that it would be better for the churches if he stayed because his mission was not yet complete. There were more churches to plant, more leaders to strengthen, more lives to point to Jesus, and more of himself left to pour out for the Lord.
And this should be a cause of “boasting in Christ Jesus” (v. 26)!
Years ago, I read where Warren Wiersbe wrote of Christians being like telescopes. When a telescope is fixed on the moon, it magnifies the moon. In reality, the moon is no more majestic when we look into that telescope than it was before we looked. But our perception has changed.
Even with a powerful telescope, we still don’t see the moon in all its alien wonder. Like the moon, Jesus cannot be made more exalted than He already is. His splendor, majesty, glory, and beauty are not made “better” just because we’re looking at Him.
But like a telescope, the perception of others changes when they see Him through us. Jesus is “more” to others because our lives cause them to see Him differently.
No matter what you’re going through, have you considered that your life can be a telescope for others to see Jesus through? Doesn’t that help reframe what you’re going through? Others can see Jesus because you are focusing the light of Who He is to those around you.
Be encouraged, dear Christian: your life—in sunshine and rain—causes others to behold the splendor, majesty, glory, beauty, and love of our Savior Jesus.