Though we may think we understand that things are not always as they appear, we must realize that the concept of perception versus reality is neither as simple as the occasional illusion, nor as insignificant as would like to believe. Each time we bite into an apparently sweet fruit and are met with unexpected bitterness, or we are pleasantly surprised by a person we prejudged negatively, we are reminded that perception often has very little to do with reality. However, in a world where perception and appearances seem paramount to all else, it is often difficult to pin down where perception ends and reality begins.
Each day we are inundated with a value system based on how one is perceived. We live in a world in which how appealing our lives look determines how valuable we are, in a culture in which we are lulled into believing that the very essence of who we are depends entirely on how much we are perceived to look and act the part, no matter what the substance behind the shiny façade may actually be. The seductiveness of the world’s trappings lures us into not only blurring the line between perception and reality, but equating the two. When a person acts and looks authoritative, they are given a position of high power regardless of their ability, when something is said to be true by enough people, then it is held to be true even if it is in fact false. When perception becomes reality, and falsehood becomes popular truth, reality and truth are as relative as a person’s preference, and as unsteady and shifting as sand sliding and giving way beneath our feet.
Buying into a world that holds perception to be reality is sliding down a slippery slope that is both dangerous and leads away from God. As children of God, how are we to navigate a world in which reality is ever-changing and truth seems to morph with circumstance? We must remember to cling to our loving Father, an unmoving rock that never changes, who is truth itself and sees clearly through all false perceptions. God and His word are the one and only reality and truth, acting as a compass that we can trust to set our course by. As we wade through falsehoods and worldly temptations to choose our own reality, we must focus on the guiding light of our Lord’s holy truth and know that what He values is unchanging and all that we need to sustain us. While the world may judge on appearances, and we may be tempted to justify ourselves for the world’s eyes, it is the Lord who sees our heart and the Lord we must strive to please and serve. When we find ourselves falling into the need to impress others, or we ourselves value others based on perceptions, we must stop ourselves and remember that this is not what God wants for us. The farther we wander off course, the more our reality becomes warped, but when we stay close to our Father, we live the life that is worth living rather than a shadow of it. In the pure light and truth of God’s life for us, we are surrounded by a sharp and undeniable reality.
“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD evaluates the motives.” Proverbs 16:2
“I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:10
“And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.” 1 Chronicles 28:9a
“So He said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is prized among men is detestable before God.'” Luke 16:5
“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'” 1 Samuel 16:7
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
“For I, the LORD, do not change” Malachi 3:6a