When I was a little girl, I was short. In fact, growing up at school, kids would dedicate the song, “Short People” to me during music class or even intentionally drop their lunch money between the stairs so the teacher would call me to go retrieve it. Although I was short, I was athletic and my favorite childhood game used to be duck duck goose and dodge-ball, (but that’s another story). For some reason, my loud mouth used to get me picked on. Therefore, kids would always choose me as the goose, but to their surprise, I was quick. I almost always got to them before they sat down. Boys especially didn’t like this and thought it was a big deal to win against me. They didn’t really know me, but once they chose me as the goose, they learned quick, that I was fast.
I have been around people long enough to know that sometimes their perception is not necessarily accurate. This poses true specifically with the characteristics of who God is. His actual reputation and His role in our lives is not always as it seems. For some, God can reflect both a positive and a negative. To them, He’s good “some of the time,” like when we get notice of a bank approving us for a loan, we thank Him, or when something that is important happens, we acknowledge Him for His goodness. Yet in other instances, we feel like He’s an angry God that smites us when we make a mistake or sin. Some think that He looks for ways to strike us down with lightning bolts or to make a show of our failures publicly. Quite frankly, these thought processes would make God out to be an untrustworthy, bi-polar, “which way is the wind blowing,” kind of God. I submit to you, that He’s good. His Word says, “He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. In other words, He hasn’t changed; even in the 21st century. It’s also the goodness of God that leads man to repentance and He gives good and perfect gifts all while loving us unconditionally. In fact, according to John 10:10, He came that we might have life, and have life more abundantly.
When things go wrong in life that we can’t explain, we feel a direct need to understand. We ask questions, and questions are good, but sometimes we ask the wrong people. There has to be a reason why something happened? So we try to deduct, calculate and piece together what little information we have. Then, if we can’t get things to line up and make sense, we resolve to just blaming God. We justify our reasoning and usually conclude that that He is God and chooses to do what He wants, when He wants, and that He doesn’t care about our lives or our situation.
Saul of Tarsus (also known to most as Paul) is a great example of a misaligned perception. As a young boy, Paul was raised in a God fearing family, and taught the law of God. His family was considered prominent in the city, but they held true to their roots and biblical teachings. Paul was raised a Pharisee, however, he had a great balance of knowing other cultures and lifestyles. Although he and his family did not participate in other cultures, he did accept “Roman Citizenship.” The city of Tarsus was considered a “booming” hub of it’s day. As a busy port for trading, there were many boats, types of people, different languages and other religions always close-by. Paul was adamant about what he believed, and when Jesus began His ministry on the earth, Paul was against it. It did not fit according to his belief. Paul ultimately murdered thousands of people and destroyed many families and lives. And yet, he did this all in the Name of God.
As Paul was moving up the ranks of his religion, he began to seek ways to put “Christians” in their place, this made him even more popular to his superiors and they sent him on assignment to Damascus. Paul began traveling and had a supernatural experience with the then resurrected Jesus. This meeting on the road to Damascus, was so powerful to Paul, that his perception of who Jesus was, changed immediately. All of his preconceived ideals, the letter of the law and most of the teachings that he was raised with, changed, in an instant. Paul understood immediately how his perception of Jesus was incorrect.
Paul expressed personally how his life was changed, and he became a witness to others of who Jesus was. His life was dedicated to the teachings of Jesus Christ and now we read today two-thirds of the New Testament that he authored. I can only imagine that when Christians heard Paul was coming to teach them, they would have to think it was a trap and start running for their lives. Now I realize that not everyone has an encounter with God like this, however, it just goes to show you that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. You have to be willing to read the book, get additional knowledge and then form your perception to the things that are as close to reality as possible.
Like Paul, you still may have a wrong perception, but the good news is, God can still use you.