I have only been blogging for a couple of months, and yet I have watched, normally from the sidelines, as people with varying perceptions have “disagreed” with one another to the point that things have gotten somewhat heated. Some have quickly made amends, and others have parted ways completely. And it seems to me that it is unfortunate that this happens so often, because to me, it is only a matter of looking at things from an earthly standpoint instead of a heavenly one.
I tend to avoid such scrapes as much as I can, only being involved personally with my one throw-down on an atheist that I felt was disrespectful to an amazing degree. But, overall, I enjoy being at peace with my fellow man…or, in these cases, my fellow bloggers.
Yesterday, I had pretty much taken the day off from my computer, and when I logged on in the evening, I came across this post written by Sara, Universal Truths in answer to a post written by Anne, titled Personal Responsibility. I’ll let you catch up on the specifics, but the part that I want to address is perception.
As a young woman, I was under the mistaken impression that everything about a person could be summed up and categorized easily and efficiently, like cataloging some kind of vegetable or fruit. For example, I thought that if a person came from a home with an alcoholic parent, that person would either love or hate addictive substances. No middle ground. If a person grew up with normal, supportive parents, that person would in turn, be a normal, supportive parent. In my mind, I tended to over-simplify everything, including people. To me, the key to understanding a fellow person was in finding the correct formula that they fit in, like an algebra problem.
But, as I grew more mature, both spiritually and emotionally, and I began to deal with my own trauma from childhood, I was forced to admit that no one is truly uncomplicated. There are just too many factors that go into the sum total of a person, and with each layer I would peel off of my own self-consciousness, I would then learn to appreciate the same complexity in other human beings. Now, as I look back over my life, and the road of healing I’ve traveled, I am very slow in assuming that any other person on the planet can truly, truly understand completely why people are the way they are. And with this developing understanding of just how much we are not equipped to judge one another has come a mercy for people as I am beginning to see them from God’s perspective instead of my own. I learned to err always on the side of compassion, empathy, and mercy….all the things that I would have wanted people to give me when I was a lost, confused, angry girl.
The only universal truths I have found are in the Bible, but even in there, we don’t all fall in all of the categories. For instance, we all have varying degrees of spiritual gifts, or we struggle with different kinds of sins, etc. The one universal truth is that Jesus died for all of us, and His sacrifice was enough for anyone. But from there on, we each are approaching this life with our own sets of ideals, understandings, perceptions, mis-perceptions, and other lenses that color how we interact and react to one another.
I don’t think for even one minute that Anne was telling me, or Sara, to just get over our pasts. There is truth in her article about taking responsibility at some point in your life for your decisions. But, I guess what sparked the wariness in me is the somewhat generality of the post…Thrown out there like some random net, and not specific in its parameters.
I am not all bent out of shape about her perceptions, because taken in the context of what I believe she was aiming at, she is correct in her opinion. It is good to remember that the body of Christ is made up of many different kinds of people who vary in their gifts. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are so different, and if one takes a minute to think about the personality types that would excel at each of these different gifts, you’d find, like I did, that they would be really different.
We need the warriors in the body of Christ, but we also need the spiritual paramedics. We need people like me, who dismiss all the varying sins and shortcomings a person struggles with, and seek to see a person the way the Lord sees them, but we also need those evangelists and teachers that bring about conviction of sins, or there would be no addressing and purging of sins in any of our lives, either.
All of our gifts were given to us in order to work together in order to bring people into the Kingdom of God; to encourage each other to stay in the fight; to point the confused or lost in the right direction; to help each other in the ways that we each individually need at that moment. It would be counter-productive to be angry or resentful or dismissive of varying perceptions from our sisters and brothers in Christ just because they don’t fit our limited scope of what we think is important. Instead, by widening our viewpoint, it is rather easy to see how each of our differences, our strong points and our weak ones, work together beautifully in the big picture of the Christian Church.
Anne’s post may have hit home for someone else, even though it might not have been necessary for me, or Sara. And as such, it is important for each of us to weigh the importance of a message for our own lives, and if it is not relevant to our own circumstances at that moment, dismiss it and move on. It doesn’t say anything at all if a message simply isn’t pertinent to an individual at that moment. It might still be important for someone else.