“I just don’t see how anyone can’t see what I can see.”
I heard that more than a few times this week, and wondered why it sounded so familiar.
A few days ago “that dress” was everywhere on social media; as ubiquitous as Walking Dead spoilers, grumpy cat memes, and Kanye West interruptions.
As the image circled the globe, the lines were drawn and sides were immediately chosen. You were either in one of two camps, (unless you were some sort of strange, colorblind fence-sitter), and no one could comprehend the other’s staggering inability to miss the glaringly obvious.
It was either a gold and white dress, or it was a blue and black dress.
It couldn’t be both.
You had to choose and choose correctly, or you were out; ridiculed and ostracized by those who disagreed, bearing the brunt of temporary Internet shame. Thankfully, this all passed as quickly as a high-speed, roadway llama chase, and we’ve all (at least momentarily) settled our differences.
Intolerance to dissension isn’t just for Instagram dresses, though.
Religion often operates the very same way.
We all think we see things the way they really are; that our eyes perceive reality correctly; that we’ve got the market cornered on objective truth.
When it comes to spirituality, we all believe that our perception, is God’s reality.
Though we would probably deny it if asked, most of us feel we’ve got stuff figured out that the less enlightened commoners around us haven’t yet grasped, and we get pretty ticked-off when they’re slow to come around. Far too often in matters of faith, our agendas and our arguments are delivered as someone with correct understanding, trying to convince someone without it.
Humility is a lost art these days. Listening, too.
We never consider that maybe our own vision is in some way compromised, that we have severe blind spots we’ve acquired along the way, that we’re missing something critical when we look at the world.
Sadly, when they face another with a different view of God, whether slightly or entirely, so many of my brothers and sisters who claim Christ become horribly intolerant when someone else doesn’t say yes to the dress. Though they invariably claim some sort of love buried at the core of their disdain, it often comes out looking like something far less commendable.
We’ve become culturally comfortable being the professed followers of a Jesus, who was far kinder to those who didn’t share his beliefs, than we ever are regarding our own.
Can you imagine him berating a stranger on social media, or picketing a soldier’s funeral, or vilifying someone from a distance? That was never his way.
Jesus allowed people to see God as they looked at him. His very life was some of his greatest evangelism. His “rightness” never prevented him from sitting and listening to someone else’s story, and his presence always left a trail of dignity. Too often ours is a trail of bitterness and intolerance, that does little to point people to Christ.
Friends, when you think about the word “God” what does your mind see?
What or Who (if anything) do you picture, and what makes you so sure that you’re right? More than that, does what you believe you’ve come to know about the character of God and about the nature of faith, make you feel morally superior, rather than simply grateful? Your answer makes a huge difference in the way you respond to people as you encounter them.
It always grieves me when one person of any belief system, so easily discounts another’s image of God, especially when that other person speaks with the same sincerity and authenticity and passion that they do.
Even sadder, is when a person professing faith in Jesus, so viciously attacks someone who doesn’t share that faith. They often show the latter, an ugliness and anger that all but invalidates their position.
I especially wish we Christians had more compassion and understanding for people who see God differently than we do.
I wish we could respect the vantage point of someone else, even when it doesn’t match our own, because it would honor their unique path to that perspective.
Why do we who believe that God is white and gold, so easily feel contempt for those who find God to be blue and black?
You can’t berate and insult someone into seeing what you see, in dresses or Divinity.
Whatever we believe God is made of, should be reflected most to those who don’t share those beliefs. We should refract the very color of God to those who don’t agree with us, or it really isn’t worth seeing.
Maybe the way we treat those whose eyes haven’t seen what we claim to now see, is the greatest case we will ever make for a second view.
God is in the eyes of the beholder. You just have to look for it.