I was watching a TV show last night on the National Geographic Channel called Brain Games. Interesting show. It explores our brain - how it sees things, how it perceives things . . . and how the brain can easily be fooled.
They showed several examples of how our brain can focus on one thing and totally miss something else that was going on right in front of us.
The first example showed a field goal kicker attempting to kick the ball between the uprights. The view was from the stands - about the 15 yard line. There were cheerleaders in the foreground. The audience was instructed to focus on the ball to see if we thought the kick was good or not. Successful field goals are often difficult to judge. It all depends on our point of view.
We watched the ball as it sailed through the goalposts. "It was good." I thought to myself. Then the announcer asked, "While you were focusing on the football, how many of you saw that three of the cheerleaders take off their tops?"
They rewound the tape and replayed the kick. This time everyone watched the cheerleaders and, sure enough, three of them removed their red cheer leading tops to reveal each of them wearing black shirts underneath saying "Made-You-Look." Interesting. I never saw that happening the first time through. My brain was focused elsewhere.
A couple of years ago I saw an e-mail making the rounds about a man who got on a crowded bus with his two kids. The two children were simply out of control, crying and screaming. In the eyes of those riding on the bus, the father simply didn't appear to care. He was just allowing his kids to do whatever they wanted without any apparent thought given to the rest of the paying passengers, who were becoming increasingly annoyed.
Finally, one older woman spoke up and complained, "Sir! Can't you control your children? They are simply out of control. Can't you do something to calm them down!?! We paid good money to ride this bus. We don't need your children screaming in our ears!"
The man slowly looked up that the woman and said,"I guess I could try to make them stop but it won't work. I'm a little out of upset myself. You see, we just watched their mother die in the hospital back there. Sorry we're bothering you."
The lady, and the other passengers on the bus did not have all the information they needed to make an accurate judgement of the situation.
Perception . . . reality.
Isn't it funny how we can believe one thing and have a strong opinion about the matter until we find what REALLY happened. As it almost always does, conclusion jumping leads to errors in judgement, bad feelings and soiled relationships.
Has that ever happened to you in the work place? Or how about at church? Or at school? Mhmm. We're not safe anywhere from perceptions becoming reality in someones eyes.
Jesus struggled with the same thing. Although Jesus spoke the truth and led a sinless life, the perception of the Pharisees was that Jesus was a blasphemer and they actively sought ways to kill him. They finally succeeded. They never knew, until it was too late, that Jesus was the Son of the Living God.
So how do we react when we are victims of a false perception? Let's look to Jesus for the answer. When faced with persecution, Jesus just kept on with his ministry. He dusted off his sandals (Matthew 10:14) and went on to the next town. The way I see this text is that we are to keep right on doing what we do. As long as what we are doing is right in God's eyes, who cares what men think. Jesus' advice to his 12 disciples . . .
26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." - Matthew 10:24-31
People persecuted Jesus right up until his death on the cross, but Jesus never gave up. He never caved in to the Pharisees and neither should we. When we are faced with adversity in this life, we could whine and complain, we could give up the fight and quit, or we could dust off our sandals and continue on.
When Jesus was examined by Pontius Pilate, trying to find out about these crimes the Pharisees said he had committed, Pilate exclaimed to the crowd, "I can find nothing wrong with this man." (Luke 23:4)
At the very end of Jesus' life, the Roman centurion pretty much spoke for the misguided Pharisees when he said, realizing his mistake, "Truly this man was the Son of God!”
We live to please God, not men. As long as we live our lives as a follower of Jesus, doing His will, we will stand before Jesus on our day of judgement, with a clean heart. We will be worth MORE than many sparrows. We as Christians live to hear Jesus say to us, "Well, done good and faithful servant." (Matthew 25:23)