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Perceptions affect how we see, hear, understand

I often wonder how two people can see the exact same thing and make two completely different judgments about what they observed

(Scott Higgins is the evangelist with the Tualatin Valley Church. Currently the church is meeting in the Tualatin Valley Heritage Center, located at 8700 S.W. Sweek Drive. Service is Sundays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. For more information, please call 503-536-5807 or visit www.tualatinvalleychurch.com.)

I often wonder how two people can see the exact same thing and make two completely different judgments about what they observed. It is amazing to realize how much perception and personality influences how we see the world.

In politics you see it all the time. Someone will say, 'I support this candidate due to their moral convictions.' In describing the same person someone else will say, 'I am against this candidate due to their moral convictions.' The candidate is the same, but judged differently by the way people view them.

Culture, my education and upbringing, my world view, all shape the way I perceive life under the sun. Truly amazing!

This human phenomenon is not new, and in fact, Jesus talks about it in Matthew. When his disciples ask him why he is teaching in parables Jesus says, 'Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not understand.' He then quotes from the prophet Isaiah and says, 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' (Matthew 13:13-15)

There are several interesting things about this passage. The idea that people can see something, but are unable to actually act on it because of their calloused hearts is a profound lesson. Could that happen to me? Have I let myself become blinded to the world around me? Have I become blinded to the teachings of Jesus, neglecting the application of his words of compassion in my life? If so, then Jesus is speaking to me!

At the end of the passage Jesus says he will heal us if we turn to him. My prayer for myself and everyone is that any blinders are removed, our ears are unplugged, that we are uninfluenced by our culture, and that we humbly accept the teachings of Jesus.

Politically, perceptions will vary and can sway elections and have an impact on our lives. However, there are great eternal consequences for not seeing, hearing and perceiving the love of Christ for all mankind. Ultimately, many of the religious teachers of Jesus' day missed the Messiah due to their preconceived notions of what the Christ would be like.

We must also be careful not to miss Christ and his teachings. We must be careful to see, hear, and understand Jesus. May God bless us in this pursuit!