Tuesday, July 26, 2011

God Spreads Rumors Too

I have had a love-hate relationship with the idiom 'perception is reality.' On the one hand, I get it. If people perceive something to be true, then their actions will be based on that perceived truth. We see this in every area of life. For instance, a young child who sees a slide as tall and scary will have to find courage to go on the slide. An adult will see the slide and think it not scary at all.

On the other hand, our perceptions can not always be trusted. I'd rather say that 'reality is reality'. As with the previous example, a child and an adult may perceive the slide in different ways, but that won't change the fact that the slide is a particular height. The slide does not change heights. Reality is reality.

This idea of perception and reality is why rumors can be so devastating. Truth is to be valued above all perception. We see this in the Bible as well.

Back in the book of Deuteronomy God is preparing His people to enter the Promised Land. We read that God would spread rumors about the Israelites that would have everyone else terrified.
"This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you.” Deuteronomy 2:25
This was both perception and reality. All the other nations had good reason to tremble.

We have rumors spread about us today as well. We're told that all Christians are hypocrites. We're unkind. We lack love. Even as Christians, we cringe every time some whack job makes us all look bad. Whether it's holding a sign or talking without speaking, we have all seen Christians act in ways that make our non-Christian friends turn to us and ask us if we're all like that.

That's how rumors get spread. They have an ounce of truth in them. These perceptions, true or not, become the reality for how people see Christians.

The people living in the Promised Land had good reason to fear the Israelites. People today have good reason to be afraid of what the next Christian might do. No, we won't have a hostile takeover of their homes, but as a group we have been far better at taking over the role of judgment and disdain for people that don't see things the way we see them.

We need to be people that help cause a different kind of rumor to be spread. The Apostle Paul was doling out lessons to a young teacher named Titus when he gave this instruction;
Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. Titus 2:6-8
Wouldn't that be something if nothing bad could be said about us? Let's give that a try.

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