Perception Is NOT Reality

Part of being a teacher is reteaching things that you’ve covered many, many times. Sometimes, you reteach because students haven’t mastered the material to the degree you need them to. Other times, you reteach because you’re trying to help them connect the new material to the concept they’ve learned before. As we work our way through the end of both Lent and the school year, I’ve found myself reteaching something from the first weeks of the year for both reasons.

At the very beginning of the year, the first thing I go over with students is always the idea of objective truth. I do this for a couple of reasons. For one thing, teaching theology to students who deny any truth claims about reality is a daunting, nearly impossible task. The second, and more important, reason is that most of our students haven’t thought about what they actually believe is true. A lot of them just sort of assume that perception is reality and that people need to be free to pursue their truth.

I teach that perception doesn’t make reality early on, but I come back to it over, and over, and over again because it takes learning it a lot of times to try and counteract that deep seated, habitual thought process of perception being reality. This week and next, though, it’s been a great reminder when we look at Christ’s week from this Sunday(Palm/Passion Sunday) to next Sunday(Easter).

It remains fascinating to me that it took only one week for the people to go from laying out the red carpet for Jesus to crying out, “CRUCIFY HIM!” I’ve been using this concept to emphasize the point that, in that week, Jesus didn’t change. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The perceptions of the people, on the other hand, that changes with the wind, it seems. Our perception is influenced by reality, but also influenced by our selfish wishes for what we want reality to be. We have to keep our eyes on Christ, the fixed start.

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