Perception vs. Truth
Often we confuse our perceptions about the state of reality with that of truth. Madoff's investors put their trust and confidence in something they thought was true. But the reality proved false. I found a very helpful explanation of truth vs. reality on pluggedin.com:
Reality reflects the varying conditions and circumstances that characterize our world—right or wrong, they’re all a part of “real life.” Truth, on the other hand, is objective, eternal and absolute. For the Christian, it is grounded in the Word of God.
Our Clouded Vision
It's a tricky, shadows and light world in which we live. How often do we take the "right or wrong" aspects of our reality and embrace them as truth? Making decisions and living our lives pointed toward a direction that seems right based upon the conditions and circumstances of our world only to be spit out and deposited outside the boundaries of God's truth. Truth transcends our experiences and perceptions.
Truth can set us free (John 8:31,32), sanctify us (John 17:17-19) and purify us (1 Pet. 1:22). “Reality” cannot. Truth, as found throughout Scripture, gives us a reliable set of unwavering parameters to live by. Reality is affected by time and manipulated by the agendas of man. It knows no boundaries of acceptability. Every form of depravity is “real.” Does that mean it’s acceptable? (pluggedin.com)
The Spirit of God worked through divinely empowered human beings to reveal truth through the medium of words which are now canonized in Scripture. Theologians use the term "propositional revelation" to describe God's provision of truth through the written word. The Bible is the Christian's "mapquest" to salvation and a "playbook" for moral living. The text is alive and relevant to every aspect of our relationship with God and one another, and is simply truth defined.
So, Scripture is truth. Going back to my hypothetical encounter with Betty Jean in the cereal aisle, how would my thoughts (and actions) play out if I were on a quest for truth?
Step 1: Suspend My Judgment (1 Samuel 16:7)
Understand that my "gut" feeling about Betty Jean--my perception--might not be true.
Step 2: Check My Heart (1 John 4:11)
When my feelings get hurt, my focus turns inward. My first concern is "self" not "others." This is a normal, natural first response and the universal heart affliction of our fallen state. But, as followers of Christ, we need to pray for help from the Holy Spirit to overcome this tendency to self-protect or "get back" at others when the perceived injury involves pride.
The Madoff crime is a worst-case example of something that seemed true but proved to be false. But all reality--macro and micro--is rife with untruth that often masquerades as truth. Our challenge is to discern the difference. Thank God we have Scripture as revelation to guide us.
Quotes in green from a wonderful article by Bob Waliszewski and Bob Smithouser from pluggedin.com. Click here for the full text.