PERCEPTION, REALITY, AND ACTUALITY
Perception is reality. At least our perception is our reality. We perceive the world in which we live, and we assume that everyone else perceives it the same. The truth is that we do not. Perception is reality, but it is not actuality.
Our perception is the ground of our decisions. We evaluate what we perceive to be true, and we make our decisions on the basis of our experience. We will always decide to do that which we believe will best fulfill our lives. That is as true for the sinner as for the saint.
Our mistakes show us that our perception, our reality, is not actuality; and so we change them to alter our perception. Our reality changes to conform more closely to God's reality, or actuality. These changes mark our acquisition of wisdom. We may have a lot of experience without wisdom, but we will not have wisdom without some experience.
Theologically, we call the difference between our perception and God's reality Original Sin. That simply means that we believe we know the truth when we do not yet know it. We cannot know God's reality until He reveals it to us. It does not come to us through study so much as through trial and error. It is when we discern our own error, and accept it rather than blame it one someone else that God can reveal His reality which is actuality in His Kingdom.
PERCEPTION AND RELIGION
Our religion is defined by our perception. It is our personal reality which we believe to be Truth. We use it to make our decisions. We alter it when we find it to be wrong, but as soon as it is altered, it is still what we believe to be true. It is the very core of our life. When we say, "I am a Baptist" or "I am a Catholic", we are saying, "I have found that these people believe what I want to believe, and so I confess the one faith I have received from the church.
The truth is that I believe only what I want to believe. I believe only what I hold in my perceptions of the world, and that is my true religion. If I will to change my belief system, I can. It will become a new base for my religion, but it will be mine only as I perceive it to be true.
There are some changes that I cannot make even when I will to believe them. I must find a way to determine how to find truth and how to assimilate it in my perceptive universe. I must find the correctives to my errors when they are seen in the light of experience. I must decide what I will to believe, and pursue that.
CREEDS, OUR CHOICE OF BELIEF
If we are going to bring our perceptions to God for Him to change them, we must decide what god we choose to make the judgments that we will need. As we bring our reality to the light of His presence, it will come to light a bit at a time.
If it is any of the popular creeds of the day, it will issue in a demand for disciplining one's self, and bringing one's self into conformity to some preconceived idea. When man seeks God, it winds up in that sort of relationship. We grasp God in our perception, and make Him what we want Him to be.
The one exception to that rule is Christianity. Christian creeds do not speak of finding our way and walking it. They speak rather of allowing God to reveal Himself to me that I might know Him, and allow Him to show me who I am. Then I may alter my perception to give me a new reality. It will not be one that I must .create through making myself believe things someone has told me. It will be something God reveals to me as I yield to His will. It is the growing relationship with a living God who loves me infinitely and unconditionally.
Having tried that myself, I found that I was not able to please my family, so their creed had to be discarded. I could not please my peer group because I was a part of it. I could not please the Deistic God in outer space, who made demands I could not meet. I certainly could not please any of the gods of the other creeds.
I had to choose a God who reveals Himself to those who seek to follow Him, and then gives me grace to walk where I could not walk in my own strength. I need a God who knows my perception of reality is skewed, and who is willing to reveal His actuality as I am able to receive it. I need a God who is able to make the changes I need within me to bring my reality to conform to His own.
CHRISTIAN PERCEPTION - DEATH AND RESURRECTION
As I am willing to trust God with my perception, I am open to hearing what He would speak to me. I am willing to allow Him to manifest in me the grace, which is His enabling power, to bring me from where I am to where He wills me to be. As I become willing, He is able to effect the changes He desires. I die unto Sin, that separated me from God when I was born. I give up my perception of reality which led me astray in my error, and embrace His.
When I offer Him my perception, I am offering Him my world. I am offering Him my life to reveal what my world will become in His Kingdom. I am offering my conscious view of reality to be conformed to His actuality. In one sense I am willing to die with Him in order that I might find a world that makes sense to me. I seek to find the purpose for my being.
To the extent that He has changed my perception that my reality is conformed to His, I have become aware of Truth, a reality that will not change. I will come to know who I am, and what I am to become as He makes the changes. While I might be exhorted to set my goals and strive attain them by other gods, Jesus Christ asks that I put my life in His hands, let Him set the goals, and bring me to the fulfillment of the goals for which I was created.
I do not keep my life that I shall surely lose at death. I literally lose my life for His sake, that I might keep it. I die with Jesus and I am resurrected with Him. The process does not wait until it is time to lay aside my body. It begins now as I relinquish my own perception of reality to embrace His. That is the difference between the Christian faith and all others. It means that I am willing to give up trying to impose my reality on a world I cannot control, and accept His reality under his
Reign in His Kingdom.
I am then set free from having to judge the rest of the world. I can leave that in His hands. If I cannot fix me, then it is certain that I cannot fix anyone else. I am free to love them as they are, and to share with them my perception of God. It is not yet perfect, but it is becoming more complete as I die with Him, and allow Him to raise me up.
Such sharing comes out of the sure knowledge that we can have a clearer image of God as we share those things He has revealed to each of us. The Church is the community in which this sharing takes place. Love and Forgiveness are the marks of the community. It is as we come together confessing our own Sin and acknowledging His grace to transform our lives, we are drawn to a Center who is able to make us one with Him and with one another. Our needs for wholeness are met, not by our efforts and striving, but by His creative love.
We no longer seek to be "Right". We seek to be loved as He desires to love us. It is as His love transforms that our own perceptions which are our reality, are brought into conformity to His perceptions which are the actuality of the universe itself, and we are made whole as His reality becomes our perception of His Truth.
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