I am privileged to work in an incredibly fun and fascinating profession. This means that I am privileged to meet many equally fascinating people and have many interesting conversations along the way.
Conversations full of real life stuff: truth, sorrow, frivolities, fun, beauty, conflict, pain, excitement.
When we take a moment to really think about it - how amazing, right?! How awesome that God presented us with this gift of communication between one another.
And because He allows us to make our own choices, we determine how we communicate with one another, and how we respond to what we receive from someone else.
Recently, I have heard the statement made that ‘perception is reality’. I have mulled over this concept for a while now and I cannot seem to shake the thought of it. What powerful implications it has.
How truly scary that thought is.
In this conversation, my perception was challenged. Ultimately, that is a good thing because like everyone else’s, mine is limited by my inability to see what happens behind closed doors. I lack the full scope because I cannot see past the flesh of a person and into their heart. Sometimes even my better qualities, such as sympathy, work against me: filtering someone else’s perspective through my own experience and attaching my personal ideals to the circumstances of others.
It seems that because we do not have certain qualities that God does - omnipresence, wisdom and understanding beyond all measure, the supernatural ability to look past the actions and appearances and see the motives behind them (to name a few) - that we are doomed to fail in some way, in listening to others and differentiating various perceptions from reality.
If we cannot do it perfectly, how then, and why, should we listen to others? It seems that as flawed humans, we would only create contention and discord… and moreover, as Christians, that it has the potential to derail us from the truths we know.
When Jesus came to this earth, our perception was that he was, at best, a knowledgeable rabbi or maybe even a prophet… at worst, he was a madman with some very elaborate party tricks. Even if we would have considered him a prophet, we would have significantly missed the target. We would not have thought a prophet would be the Savior of the world.
Even more, we crucified him. At some point, our perception shifted, it was worldly, and we considered him dangerous, and disruptive… to the point that he was worthy of death.
All the while, we counted ourselves ‘good people’ at least generally speaking.
These were our perceptions.
In hindsight, we see how wrong they were. Our perceptions were not reality. (In this particular instance, that is something to rejoice over!)
As we navigate a world teeming with unwavering opinions, head-in-the-sand mentalities where you get to choose your reality, as Christians, I know we are feeling the weight of it. And we should be. That is our role in this world, to go against the cultural norms and to ask ourselves things like: how can I neglect to diligently seek to uncover the truth? And how can I refuse to offer grace knowing that I am not an all-knowing god?
Here is my truth and I hope it is yours: I want THE Truth. Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the conviction of things not seen.” I want my only source for truth to be planted firmly in the Author and Perfecter of my faith. My reality hinges on Him, His Word, His Spirit guiding me.
“Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the conviction of things not seen.”
HEBREWS 11:1 (ESV)
I want my faith to establish my perception, not my perception to establish my faith.
We cannot lie down at night and draw a blanket of deceit over our bodies. We cannot eat the fruit of a half-truth. We cannot buy into a perception that is not grounded in the facts that God would lead us to.
We cannot, not because we are inherently resistant to lies and half-truths and omissions. We cannot because Jesus cannot, and Jesus is in us.
How can we be in conversation with someone who is (often unknowingly) offering us a worldly perspective, rooted in lies, and handle it with grace? How can we respond in a way that offers truth without judgement, and be fully grounded in our faith?
Over the next few posts on beingSALTY, I hope we can take some time to right our perceptions and focus on trusting in and listening to God first. This way we can, in turn, learn to listen to others with a right heart, guided by a sturdy rudder of Truth.
If you haven’t already, memorize Hebrews 11:1. Meditate on it over the coming weeks and ask God to show you what it looks like to be a listener to Him first, and then to others.
What is your biggest struggle in keeping a clear perspective within your faith? How has the Holy Spirit worked in you to keep you grounded in truth when limited perception could have taken you down a different path? What verses help you to maintain a right perspective despite surrounding obstacles? Feel free to share here and let your stories and scriptures inspire others.