I've written before on Perspective. Today, what haunts me is perception.
I had a conversation last night with a person who is struggling with a dilema. She is a Christian, who believes she has not been walking "the path" (I put that in quotes because it's something she said, which I guess is a path subject to her interpretation of something she has been told we as Christians are required to follow). She was tormented over a life and relationship issue that anyone today (Christian or non) may struggle with. But as with most Christians, her universal struggle came down to questioning herself and her relationship with God.
I talked to her about Grace. I told her that just because something terrible, bad or inconvenient happens, it doesn't mean God is punishing her for some wrong she had committed. I told her that God was not mad at her for not walking "the path". I told her that God was and always will talk to his children through trials and blessings, all in an effort to keep us close to Him, and that He does this out of love for us.
She didn't get it.
Why? Her perception of Christianity was shaped by a fundamentalist, "you must be doing something wrong" mentality. She grew up in a very legalistic faith community, that preached the gospel of "accept Jesus as your savior, or else".
This is not a deep theological blog entry, so I'm not going to break out scripture to prove my point. I just think it's sad. It's sad for different reasons:
1. Because of wrong teaching, people are robbed of the love and freedom found in Christ.
2. Because of wrong teaching, people see Christianity as rules and guidelines to follow.
3. Because of wrong teaching, people see God and faith as something you do when you have kids, because it's good for them (and isn't "Jesus Loves Me" such a cute song?).
4. Because of wrong teaching, people see Christianity as something you turn back to when things get rough, and not as something that becomes your identity.
5. Because of wrong teaching, people fail to see the vastness, magnificence, and mystery that is God, the Trinity, and our ancient, ethereal faith.
Perceptions are such dangerous things. They lock us into an idea, and don't let us move. Perceptions can paralyze.