Goat Herders And A Sky Daddy: The Power Of Perception

 

GoatHerder_perception

When seeing the title of this blog, I’m sure most of you were like, “Huh?! What does that even mean?”

To those who don’t know, they’re two ways that some atheists refer to God and those He used to write the Scriptures. Another phrase used to refer to God in mocking Him is “The Flying Spaghetti Monster”. The aim is not only to mock, but according to them, it’s a way to show why faith in God is either unnecessary or imaginary.

Everytime I encounter these kinds of sayings; whether on social media comments, forums, whatever, I’m sometimes amused because of how weak they are or annoyed that this is really what people think is a rational response to faith in general and faith in Jesus particularly.

It also brought to mind the power of perception and how it influences the way you look at things. I mean, look at the phrases “goat herders” and “sky daddy” used in describing the people used in writing the Bible and of God, there’s honestly NO way that this is an accurate depiction of the variety of people used by God to write His word and of who God is. I want to list a couple of things to help drive this reality home:

1. While there are goat herders from that time period, I don’t recall any that were used to write Scripture…there were some sheep herders though(Amos[Amos 7:14-15], David[Psalms 78:70-72])

2. He not only used animal herders, there were kings (David again and Solomon), elite scholars(Paul), doctors(Luke), even former murderers(Moses), zealots(John), and fishermen(Peter).

3. God has constantly said that He is a God who is near and not far off. He transcends us, yet is also close with us(immanence). The word sky daddy leaves such a distant and bland tone that He’s ‘somewhere up there’ when the earth is filled with His glory and presence too(Jeremiah 23:23-24 Isaiah 6:3)

4. No socio-economic environment was left off limits by a God who presented a united and consistent declaration of who He is, who we are, and what He had to say.

As you can see, perception is a very powerful influence on how you see things and the way you respond to it. One of the definitions of perception is “a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression”.

We don’t just do this with God, we actually can do it with each other as well. To the Christians, how you perceive a minister or fellow church member will determine how you interact with them and respond to them. Even how you relate to those who aren’t Christians will be based on how you perceive them. Do you love them as God calls us to love? Do you just see their sins, or do you also see their value as humans made in the image of God? The way you live around them will be the answer to those questions.

How do you look at your co-workers, or even your family? This even goes for those who aren’t Christian that’s reading this. How do you perceive politicians, police, women, men, etc will seriously affect how you deal with each kind of person mentioned. Even as we see the social tensions in our society being ratcheted up, how do you look at people with a different skin color or socio-economic status? As we’ve seen in the description of the authors of Scripture as goat herders…it will definitely affect how you take and respond to things.

God is aware of how much perception plays a part in our lives; so much so, that in one circumstance, He revealed something to one of the writers He used to write Scripture in order for his perception to change!

When the early Church first started, mainly Jews were believing in Yeshua as the Messiah without any Gentiles coming in. Even after Jesus said the command to make disciples to everyone, there was still no ministry being done towards the Gentiles. The general perception was that because Gentiles were ceremonially unclean, they had to become circumcised and follow the law like the rest of the Jews did. So for awhile Peter, like the rest of the Jews, didn’t make a conscious effort to go to them. But in Acts 10:9-28 we see God give him a vision of unclean animals basically telling him to go see Cornelius and preach the Gospel to him, and he is a Gentile. You see how God changed his perception of His plans and the Gentiles when he said this to Cornelius and his family in verse 28:

Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

You see, the perception that Paul had didn’t take into account the work that Jesus did when He died for our sins on the Cross. It was way bigger than Peter and the Church Jesus established perceived it to be. His perception influenced his interaction and response to a whole group of people that God Himself loved and made a way to be saved.

So what is a perception that’s keeping you from thinking more like Christ? How has your experiences and life history shaped your perception of people and even God Himself? Even as I ask you that question, it’s something that I think about as well, I’ve even been confronted by my own perceptions and had to change. I hope and pray that we continue to be transformed by the renewing of our minds as our perceptions are made to be more like the way God sees things.

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