How many times throughout our lives have we been so convinced about something one day only to find out, days, weeks, months, or even years later we had been wrong? It's happened to me often. And yet for years I continued to be willing to "go to the mat" for an idea, a principle, or a "truth" and often that was done at the expense of relationships. So often I felt justified living this way because what I believed was so important and defending it was there for important. How many times have we all done this and hurt others? In the end not only do we hurt others but we hurt ourselves also. How often do we fight for what we see as being reality because it is so clear to us what we see? It's right in front us.
How often have we mixed up reality and truth? I'm learning that reality and truth are two totally different things. Just because we see something with our eyes (reality) doesn't make it truth. In just about every moment of our lives we are interpreting things we see and hear. 10 people can see the same event (reality) and come away with 10 different accounts of what they saw happen. The same is true with what we hear. Words so often mean different things to each of us. So 10 people can hear the same thing and again we can come up with several different accounts as to what they heard.
Where does this leave us? How do we come to a place that we can communicate in a way that we are less likely to misunderstand each other? How can we in a day and time, where we are so bombarded with images that are never able to be put into context, keep from living in illusions created by these images? Images don't have as much influence on me any longer when it comes to what is truth. It's dangerous thinking we "know" what is going on from having just seen images of something, especially with the greatest image maker man has come up with...TV.
When it comes to language
When it comes to language
and conversation we are not
much better off. Not only do we face the problem caused by the breakdown of the meaning of words, we face the difficulty caused by the fact that we have a hard time really listening to the other person talking. We must learn to listen and we need to learn that what we see can often fool us.
Why have I put these two pictures here in this post? As an object lesson. When I took them I was standing in the same spot, the first on one day, the second on the day after. I'm glad I didn't go to the mat fighting with someone the first day insisting that Mt Hood wasn't in front of me. I'm humbled though wondering how many times I have made such a mistake and been dead wrong. I hope that helps as far as not blindly trusting in the images that our culture uses to present to us what is going on around us. And I am going to use the words of the Bishop of Durham NT Wright, that might hopefully cause us to pause long enough so that we might "hear" what the other is really saying.
"One sign of Christian maturity may be a readiness to hear the argument through to the end, rather than what many Christians are eager to do, short circuiting the argument in the interest of quick fix spirituality or missiology."
Isn't taking the time to listen, to really care about the other an act of love? It takes the freedom found in God to be able to do this.