For the past few (and coming few) weeks, we’ve been discussing the idea that actual truth can reduce distance between people. Sometimes we feel like truth is what divides us, but when we journey together toward The Truth (Jesus), we begin to realize that He is Who unites us, and our disagreements start to matter less.
Yesterday, Jurie showed an image that has been on my mind ever since. To illustrate the word “schism,” he showed an axe splitting a piece of firewood. The word “schism” is defined by Dictionary.com as “division or disunion, especially into mutually opposed parties.” Sound familiar?
I’ve been thinking about all of the good things that the Enemy distorts to make these schisms happen. Think about it… God has gifted us with diversity, rest, food, education, talents, and language. Here’s what the enemy turns them into – prejudice, workaholics vs. the lazy, fat-shamers vs. gluttons, the educated vs. the uneducated, talent envy, and miscommunication. The distortion of objective truth and goodness weakens us by dividing us – from ourselves, from one another, and from God.
Jurie has described “humility” as “having a correct view of yourself, in God’s eyes.” Similarly, “truth” can be defined as “an accurate view of reality, from God’s perspective.” From God’s perspective, not all skinny people (or people trying to lose weight) are fat-shaming people who aren’t. Likewise, not all people with a larger body-type are gluttons. Not all wealthy people are cruel, and not all poor people are lazy. Not all talented people are looking down from a pedestal, and not all people with different talents than mine are untalented.
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.1 Corinthians 12:4-6, NKJV
My family and I got our eyes checked last week, and I guess that has put the ideas of focus and lenses on my mind. As I said before, the Enemy distorts what is good to create division. Distortion makes truth difficult to see. What’s in the lenses you use changes what you see and how distorted it is.
My glasses have astigmatism correction, progressive bifocal, and prisms. My husband’s have a slight correction for near-sightedness. My daughter’s have a slight correction for far-sightedness. When we try on one another’s glasses, nausea and headaches ensue. But when we wear the corrective lenses designed for us, everything becomes clear. For vision, all that seems trivial and obvious. But when we talk about our worldview – the spiritual lens through which we view the world (and ourselves, one another, and God), most of us walk around half-blind.
Let’s look through the lenses depicted here, with a few examples.
One of the most powerful lenses through which we view the world is personality. Are you a high-motivation, high-energy, extroverted perfectionist? How do you feel about someone who is motivated by different rewards than you… or someone who needs more rest, or struggles in crowds, or is willing to do work that is only “good enough” in order to preserve their mental health? I know managers who take a payout for their vacation days every year because they struggle to disengage from work. I know people who actually show up in the office when they’re on vacation, or sick, or bereaved. Those people are not like me. I take leave when I have a migraine. I take a whole week off around Thanksgiving, two during December, and one or more over the summer. Which of us is right?
Being off from work might drive you stir-crazy, make you feel guilty, or make you nervous because you don’t trust the people covering your workload. Being off from work gives me joy, and peace, and rest. But my personality isn’t the same as yours. I’m not lazy or entitled because I need a break, and you may not be a workaholic or control freak. A few weeks ago, we talked about relativism and the fact that there is an objective truth we are both seeking. Here, though, I’m not talking about “your truth” vs. “my truth” vs. “The Truth.” I’m talking about the differences in our personalities. God has made you the way you are. He has made me the way I am. We both may have issues to work through, but our personality differences don’t necessarily make either of us wrong. It just means we’re different.
If you know me well, or can read between the lines here, you can probably tell that this is a lens I struggle with. It’s hard for me to see a the high-energy extrovert as having healthy boundaries, just as it may be hard for them to see me as having a healthy work ethic. But understanding my own personality, and seeking to understand yours, is a good start toward having a healthy relationship. Working together in spite of our differences (or better yet, working better together because we value our differences) goes a long way toward reducing distance between us.
The lenses of past and future can distort our vision too. The lens of the past takes all of our past experiences and creates an expectation that the people, places, and experiences of today will match the patterns of the past. Have you been a victim of emotional abuse in the past? You may struggle to trust anybody ever again. Have you been a victim of prejudice? You may struggle to trust people who are different from you along the lines of that prejudice. My experiences are different from yours, and it can be really difficult for me to understand your issues… and likewise in reverse.
The lens of the future takes our hopes, dreams, goals, and expectations and filters the present through them. This lens tends to make us perceive others as a means to those ends, and it also can make us look down on people whose hopes and dreams don’t match our own. A tenured professor may look at an aspiring artist and think that they’re not making adequate use of their intellect. A manager may grow frustrated when their team members aren’t performing to a level that would help the manager get promoted.
How do we combat the distortion of the time lenses? I think the biggest thing is to remember that God is in our past, present, and future. We need to seek to understand one another’s past experiences (a.k.a., “baggage”), as well as one another’s hopes and dreams. But we also need to hold our own past experiences and our hopes and dreams lightly, knowing that God is in the business of redeeming our pasts and reclaiming our futures.
The only way to avoid the distortions that drive a wedge between us is to pursue the only perfect corrective lens. One of my favorite songs starts like this:
God I look to You, I won’t be overwhelmedGod I Look to You, verse 1, Bethel Music
Give me vision to see things like You do
God I look to You, You’re where my help comes from
Give me wisdom, You know just what to do
One popular Bible verse says:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV
Another passage says this:
For You formed my inward parts;Psalm 139:13-16, NKJV
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
When we align our vision with God’s vision, when we are on a journey together toward His Truth, and when we seek to understand before being understood, we reinforce our position against the Enemy, who would drive us away from ourselves, one another, and our God.
Do you have a story of life change? We would love to hear it. Let us hear how God is transforming your life and the lives of those around you through the power of Christ. Drop us a line at [email protected] or submit a form using the button below! We’ll get in touch and work with you to share your story.