The first time I heard the expression, “Rose-colored glasses,” I was six years old, and country music legend John Conlee was singing it through my radio. I had no idea what he was singing about, but people enjoyed it with a country twang. It wasn’t until years later that I realized he was expressing the way we view people and the world.
Most people believe the phrase became a figure of speech in the 1840s. The first known publication is generally accepted to be from the novel “Tom Brown at Oxford,” written by Thomas Hughes and distributed in 1859. Through the years, the meaning has remained the same; looking through rose-colored glasses was to be optimistic, cheery, and hopeful.
There are a couple of theories on how this expression came into existence, but no one is entirely sure of the origin. Various studies on the eye reaffirm that specific lenses impact our moods and perception of the world. People who look through rose-colored glasses indeed tend to be more positive and upbeat.
The Apostle Paul writes to the Church in the city of Corinth, and he says, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.” (2 Corinthians 5:16 – NIV 2011). Paul indicates that when he became a follower of Jesus, his thoughts about Jesus changed along with his view of other people. He no longer saw people as the culmination of their past mistakes; instead, he saw that a “new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 – NIV 2011)
Paul advocates that when people come to Jesus and make him their Lord and Savior, their vision changes. They view the work of Jesus differently, and they view other people in a new way. Christians see the world through glasses that are tinted red from the blood of Jesus. Each person is made new in him or can change if they come to faith. The world is no longer a dark place where evil reigns; rather, it is a place of unlimited potential for the kingdom of God in the lives of people.
Some may label people who wear rose-colored glasses as being overly optimistic. Others may laugh and tell them to take the lenses off their face. I think Paul would tell all believers to put on the corrective glasses of faith and view the world the way Jesus did. There is so much potential for God to do his work in the world if we will only see it. Because of the blood of Jesus, we have every reason to be optimistic and happy.