“Perception is reality” is one of those phrases or common buzzwords bandied about frequently in our time. It promotes the idea that one should mold one’s ideas to how those ideas will be perceived by the individual or group one is trying to reach in order to expand one’s influence or popularity. Advertisers, politicians, governments, businesses, celebrities, churches, and others have the tendency to submit themselves to this phrase by allowing it to dictate their actions. I believe it’s one of the many principles that contributes to the deterioration of whole societies and cultures including many churches today, or it leaves us with the assumption that the way we view situations are how they really are when they may not be.
With the worldwide tidal wave of anti-Christian sentiment upon us, we as Christians will have to move beyond having God in a “perception-is-reality” box that makes us believe if we can’t hear, feel, taste, smell, or see God moving, then he’s not around and isn’t doing anything for us. It’s easy with the troubles and challenges we face in life to cave in to our feelings and project them onto God with our short-sighted views. We have to remind ourselves God is Lord over the whole picture, not just our little corner of the world that may look like a close-up of a Monet painting (a big mess), when in fact from his view of the whole thing, it’s a masterpiece.
I’ll give an example from the Bible. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah had a contest against the prophets of Baal where God displayed himself as more powerful than Ahab and Jezebel’s false god. Then Elijah killed all 850 prophets of Baal. In 1 Kings 19, Queen Jezebel got angry when she found out what Elijah did and put a bounty on his head, promising to kill him. Elijah got scared and went into hiding. When God asked him why he was hiding, Elijah said he was the only prophet of the Lord left and he feared for his life. Then God demonstrated to Elijah that he doesn’t always appear in big productions like earthquakes, strong winds, or big fires, but sometimes in a still small voice that appears insignificant to the human senses. Elijah was told by the Lord that Jehovah had preserved for himself 7,000 worshipers in pagan Israel who refused to bow to Baal. Jehovah made clear to Elijah that his perception was not reality.
Here’s a modern example from my own life. I had a co-worker many years ago who seemed like a good guy to know. His parents were devout, active evangelicals. His mother also was a co-worker of mine. The young man was well-mannered, respectful to everyone (or so I thought), was clean-cut, always showed up to work on time, and everyone was fond of him and spoke well of him. Then God dropped a word in my spirit about him–“angel face, devil’s heart.” And that’s all I got. It wasn’t an audible voice and I didn’t know what it meant. I didn’t treat him any different once I got that word, but many times when I came in contact with him at the office, that word about him came up in my spirit. A few months later I left that office and went to grad school, where I got a call from my old boss. She told me that the well-mannered, clean-cut, handsome young man that everyone loved had been stealing from people in the office–taking money, baseball tickets, personal mementos, and other things. So he got fired. And he was kicked out of the seminary he had just enrolled in. Our initial perception of him was not reality and the word I got from God (that wasn’t based on what I could see) was spot on.
As we approach the last of the last days, we will have to toss aside our human-based (or false doctrine-based) perceptions because that is how the world is deceived by the powers that be and will be deceived in the future as they move to empower the Antichrist and his false prophet with their lying signs and wonders. For example, we may have to stop paying so much attention to some statistics, like the report this week claiming fewer Americans believe in God. This will require us to read the Bible, pray a lot, meditate on his word (running it through our minds regularly), and rely on him for guidance while we stay current with world events.
Harry A. Gaylord