Posted by: mikenicholsblog | July 30, 2017

deception in perception

We all have preconceived notions about other countries and other people groups. Over the last several days, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Canadian Rockies. It was a prearranged business trip that I would have never taken unless it was company sponsored; plus the location was on my wife’s bucket list. Was I surprised? It may have been the most beautiful place we have ever visited with majestic scenery and wonderful people. My biased perceptions were certainly laid to rest.

At the airport on our way home while checking our baggage, we had an interesting conversation with a nice Canadian woman. Before long, we were challenged with a perception of our country that stunned us. The conversation went something like this. The nice woman said, “Don’t you feel safe here?” To which I answered “yes,” having no idea what she truly meant. Then she said, “We are afraid to go to the United States … because of the guns.” Her words rendered us almost speechless! But that was her perception of our wonderful country. Different countries, different people … vastly different perceptions!

We all also live with perceptions about the people in our lives. It is especially easy to let our feelings become skewed in an unbiblical manner toward those who have hurt us. Once they do, it is easy for our minds to emotionally shut them out, hold on to anger towards them, and respond in a manner contrary to the will of God. Make no mistake, we all have those people in our lives and we battle our emotions and will in dealing with them. It is easy to let our perceptions of those hurtful people become very biased.

In the Beatitudes listed in Luke six, Christ taught about loving our enemies. His words go straight to the heart of how Christ-followers should respond to enemies, and those who hate, curse and hurt us. Quite frankly, the way many Christians perceive enemies, haters, cursers and hurters cause those same Christ-followers to violate God’s plan for dealing with them.

But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
Luke 6:27-36 (NLT)

Towards the same kind of people we perceive in a very negative way, Christ gives us the commands to do good, bless, pray for, be kind and be compassionate. It should be noted that living like this will not be easy, but it will be Christ-like. And could it be that some of those very enemies, haters, cursers and hurters will be affected and perhaps forever changed by the gift of your love?  — that is not normal, but very biblical. Also, just maybe, some of our perceptions will be changed when God uses us in the healing work He is doing in their lives.

The Canadian Rockies now rate high on my list of places to visit, and our Canadian airport friend is still a bit afraid of the guns in America. The difference is, my wife helped change my perception to reality! If you and I will live Christ’s model in the beatitudes, our prior perceptions will change to a blessed reality.

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