Perception vs. Reality

“Perception is reality” are words that I heard recently.  I have wrestled with those words many times over the last several days and find them to be quite unsettling for two major reasons:

  1. Sometimes perception is a long way from reality.
  2. Sometimes perception is a lot closer to reality than I would like it to be.

Inaccurate perceptions can be the cause of bad decisions, missed opportunities, hurt feelings, broken relationships, and separation from God.  There are many examples in Scripture of mankind not understanding the reality of who God is and what God can do.  Think for a minute about Noah. I imagine that when Noah began to build the ark, as commanded by God, he was perceived by his friends and neighbors as being a little bit crazy.  But because Noah knew, believed, and obeyed God, mankind was not completely destroyed.

What about the story of David and Goliath?  Goliath’s perception of young David as a weak child who could not possibly cause him harm, was a long way from reality.  Goliath did not understand the power of God that was with David, but David believed in the reality of what God could do.  And God caused David to triumph over Goliath.

In the New Testament, there are many stories of people who did not perceive Jesus as the Son of God.  Some saw Him as merely a teacher or prophet.  Some saw Him as a political troublemaker.  Many from Jesus’ hometown were only able to see Him as a simple carpenter.  But those who recognized and accepted Jesus for who He was, received an invitation into the very real Kingdom of God.

Yes, God sent prophets whose messages were not believed.  He chose people who were perceived to be weak or flawed and turned them into great leaders. God asked people to do things that seemed absurd to those who did not know who He was.  And God sent His Son, Jesus, to suffer and die to save us from our sins.  Things would look a lot different today if mankind had accurately perceived and understood God’s message from the very beginning.

Thinking about these examples from Scripture caused me to reflect on the times I have not accurately perceived a person, a situation, or maybe even a calling from God.  How many times have I unfairly judged someone because I didn’t fully understand what was going on in that person’s life?  How many times have I been critical of a situation without the knowledge of what was really happening?  And how many times have I misunderstood a calling from God because it did not fit my idea of what God would call me to do?  How many times have I only heard what I wanted to hear?  These are tough questions, but I believe they are important question for all of us to ask ourselves.

One of the more difficult things to wrestle with regarding the words, “perception is reality” is the idea that others may not perceive me the way I want to be perceived.  Am I giving my best to my family and friends?  Am I the kind of employee that works hard and makes a positive difference in the lives of the people I work with?  Am I living a life that reflects Jesus to the world?  If I claim to be a follower of Christ, but don’t live as one in every area of my life, people will not see the person I want them to see.  I want to live my life in a manner that causes people to perceive the reality that I want them to—the reality that I am a loved and forgiven child of God who strives to be the person I was created to be.

Have a blessed week!

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