Minister's Minute: What are you looking at?

Did you watch the U.S. State of the Union speech last week? I am fascinated that similarly intelligent, rational, compassionate and patriotic people, watching the exact same speech, came up with wildly divergent perspectives. Some felt it was reasoned and unifying while others thought it was rambling and divisive.

This is sometimes called the paradigm effect: Two groups of people observing the same data come to different conclusions, because their assumptions and perspectives blind them to alternate interpretations. To some extent we are all controlled by our prejudices.

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There are two ways (at least) that this paradigm effect hurts us. The first is in deciding what is possible or impossible. Our perspectives on threats or opportunities can hold us back and limit what we accomplish; or conversely, lead us into dangerous risk.

The second way this hurts us is in judging people. We all struggle with this. If we had a bad experience with someone with a certain name, ethnicity or profession, that prejudices us toward others who share those same characteristics.

We are constantly judging people by how they look, sound, dress, vote, walk or worship. And that can blind us to who they really are.

The good news is that God looks right past all that and knows us as we really are: The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”(1 Samuel 16:7, NIV). He knows us - and he still loves us.

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