Perceptions and Realities

Note from the Editor: A new book–The Missing Ingredient– containing the newsletter teaching articles from the past 10 years was just published by Scriptural Study Groups. In light of the book’s publication, we thought that our readers might enjoy reading the first newsletter article, “Perceptions and Realities” (from September 2003), in this first issue of 2013.

Our human minds have limitations and, because of this, we truly perceive only a small fraction of the many sights, sounds, and other sensory stimuli we encounter during the course of a day. We retain certain things, but the rest go unnoticed.

What is particularly interesting about this phenomenon is that a group of individuals in the same location, engaged in the same activity, will perceive and thus remember entirely different details regarding that place and event.

Take, for example, a wedding. A seamstress might be able to remember every detail about the bridesmaid’s dresses, but not one word that the minister said. A carpenter might not even remember the color of those dresses, but could tell you about the quality of craftsmanship involved in the construction of the church. A musician might praise the artistry of each band member, but recall nothing that was served at the reception. The caterer might recite the full menu and the number of people served, but perhaps not recollect even the bride and bridegroom’s names.

Though you and I might look at the same person, place, or event, what we see, and thus what we remember, could be very different. Because we see that which matters most to us.

What mattered most to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Matthew 24:1, 2
And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

The disciples saw the magnificence of the temple, and indeed the temple was magnificent. Jesus, however, saw far beyond the physical building. He saw its purpose—to foreshadow the plan of God. He saw the erosion of that purpose in the minds of the Judeans to the end that he himself, the consummation of that plan, was ignored in the very place that was to point to him. He saw the future of that building. And he saw the future of God’s plan, which he had come to fulfill.

Luke 13:1–5
There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Those around Jesus were busy discussing the events of the day. Both of these events certainly would have made the headlines: both involved great loss of life, and one encompassed the political strife of the day. In that day, as in ours, those incidents, their causes, and their possible effects would have been the topic of conversation of all who considered themselves “informed.”

Jesus saw beyond the moment. Whether men die violently or peacefully, all are sinners. All need to be reconciled to God lest they perish eternally. This is the urgent need, the “hot topic” of all times.

The world is abounding with issues that dazzle, distract, and disappear. As God’s sons and daughters, taking the place of Jesus Christ in this world, it is paramount that we rise above and see beyond the momentary issues of the world. But we are men and women of eternity; eternity must be our concern.

When Philip went to Samaria (see Acts 8), he could easily have filled people in on the “latest” from Jerusalem. He was probably encouraged by the people to do just that. After all, a great persecution was occurring. But instead, he “preached Christ unto them” (verse 5).

Men and women of the world live fleeting lives, filled with fleeting interests. But God has offered them eternity. That eternity can be theirs if they have the opportunity to hear and believe eternal truth.

We must speak eternal truth in this temporary world. And that is a simple thing when eternal truth is what matters most to us.

II Corinthians 4:18
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

I am thankful to be standing on eternal truth with you.