Perception Determines Reality

In just reading the title you might gasp and think that I have turned into a Relativist. Fear not though as I remain an Absolutist. That does not mean I suggest that all things be weighed the same but more on that some other time. Right now I want to talk about to some extent perception determines reality at least how this impacts the church as a whole.

People more than ever seem to be concerned (at least marginally) with social justice and social issues. Bare minimum they at least want to give it lip service because it deserves to at least be spoken of. The plight of this group, or that group. This place or that place. This situation or that situation. I for one think this is great because there are a lot of issues we can and should get behind. The problem with all of this is that Christians (again as a whole) have been perceived as only caring about two issues namely homosexuality and abortion. While we do talk about these things they are far from the only things we discuss but that does not matter because we are perceived as only talking about these issues. Now it is a cheap and lazy attack but effective nevertheless. It is an attack on the church that is proving to be very detrimental to our cause.

Here is what I am talking about; if you feel slighted by someone then whether or not they have actually slighted you is somewhat irrelevant. Now, of course, this is an overgeneralization and does not apply to this audience but for a lot of people, this is true. The facts do not matter nearly as much as the way it is perceived. Now again whether that is right or wrong really does not matter right now. If we look around we see this playing out all the time, and sad to say this is what has happened to the church as a whole. We have been perceived as only caring about two issues and nothing else. To such an extent that we have actually had to take the defense and stand to battle against these two issues as if they were the only ones.

Now as a Christian I know this is not true. I know we as a whole are involved in feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, stopping sex trafficking, and so on. So how do we go about changing the perception? More importantly, do we need to change it? I think the answer to that question is a resounding YES! We not only should but we must change it because the very people who have this perception are the ones we are meant to reach with the love of Christ. I think we should make changing the perception a top priority. We are supposed to be known for our love, sharing, and compassion. So if the perception is we are only against homosexuals (which is wrong) or that we want to control women’s bodies (again wrong) then we need to change that perception. So how do we do that?

I think it is a two-fold approach. First is active shenanigan and hogwash calling. When people say “oh Christians hate gay people” or, “Christians think they can tell a woman what to do with their body, woman hating,” I say we call shenanigans! Be decent about it but ask them why they believe that or where they got that from. I give you permission that it is OK to do. Most people have no idea why they say half the things they say (Christians and non-Christians alike) they just say what they have heard and been told to say so just call them out and ask why. Correct the perception.

If someone said Bob (let’s pretend you are Bob) is a woman-hating jerk, I am pretty sure you would not lay down and just take it. After all they are insulting your name. They are insulting you. Well when people say Christians are homophobic woman hating jerks they are calling you that if you are a Christian so stand up for yourself. We have this idea that being meek and humble means we have to be beat up and not stand for truth, but take another look in the Scriptures and see how Jesus, Peter, and Paul responded when people tried to defame the truth. Yes there are times to take it on the chin but there are also times to stand up. Don’t get into a fight just to fight but don’t just dragged through the mud and think it makes you holy. It is a really hard line and requires a lot of prayer and meditation on the Word.

The second way is to keep doing good. Galatians 6:9 says:

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Just keep at it. Use it as fuel to push through. Someone says Christians only care about X go and do Y. Keep at it and keep moving forward in love.

We have a great cause we are fighting for and it is bigger than any popular issue going through social media today. If they want to accuse us of something it should be that Christians are always loving me and trying to help me. We are in a war for people’s souls so let’s start fighting.

Just a thought,

Mike

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