Often What’s REAL Isn’t What’s TRUE!
The apostle Paul, originally named “Saul,” loved the one, true God with all his heart and was resolute in his lifetime commitment to follow and obey Him. As a result, he murdered Christ followers. What’s wrong with this picture?
The Holocaust and 9/11 were perpetrated by sincere, passionate, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and fathers and sons with strong convictions about what was “good” and “right.” They all believed they were doing the will of their god, obeying their trusted leaders for the good of their nation! And they were willing to die for their beliefs because those beliefs were real. The result, as you know, was the massive slaughter of millions of innocent human beings of all ages. How could hundreds of thousands of intelligent soldiers be so completely fooled by a political lunatic?
I grew up in Baltimore, acutely aware (by age 5) that kidnappers lurked in every shadow, around every corner, in every alley. I was thoroughly convinced that, if I were not hyper-vigilant, I would be the next little girl whose face was displayed on posters hung on streetlamps throughout our neighborhood. Indeed, on two occasions, strange men stopped their cars and offered me candy and money if I would get in and let them drive me to my destination. (My phobia regarding kidnappers probably saved my life way back then.) As I matured, I unconsciously adopted fear as my protection. I learned my lesson well, that “Whenever I’m alone, I’m in danger. Men who I don’t know will most likely victimize me.” Growing up in Baltimore, that was real.
Fast-forward: I was raped at age 19 by an acquaintance who I thought was somewhat trustworthy because of his leadership role. He was not a stranger. This tragic event expanded the parameters of my terror to include ALL men (not just strangers) and the belief that rape is even worse than being murdered. My new reality became “danger lurks EVERYWHERE!” And the enemy jumped all over that.
In India, most of the people embrace the Hindu religion, which teaches that people who die are reincarnated in the form of animals. Therefore, it is against the law to kill rats, mice, cows, or any other animals. This belief system does not align with Scripture. Therefore, it is a false belief. It is not truth, but it is very real to the people of India. The truth is that God created all creatures for our benefit, and He told us to subdue and rule over them (Gen. 1:28). Mothers, who deeply love their babies and would do anything for them, watch them starve to death, while mice, rats, dogs, cattle, and other animals thrive.
Every day, every cow eats enough food to feed seven people, and there are two hundred million "sacred cows" in India. If the people of India would stop feeding the cows (let alone eat hamburgers), they would have enough food to feed one billion four hundred million people. (That is more than one quarter of the world's population!) What’s real to the Hindu people of India is not true. But they don’t know that. Neither did the soldiers, nor Paul. Neither did I.
All of our relationships, including our relationship with God, our spouse, kids, friendships, acquaintances, ALL of them, are overwhelmingly affected by our unconscious belief systems. It rarely occurs to us to question our feelings, reactions, and prejudices… to ask ourselves, “Is my assumption, which seems very reasonable and real, actually based in truth?”
John 8:31-32 says, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” God has the only genuine view of what is actually going on, internally and externally, in every situation. His perspective is the only true perspective. Jesus IS “the way, the TRUTH, and the life…” (John 14:6). The enemy IS the Father of Lies (John 8:44). He distorts our reality, and we too often assume that another person is against us, that we’re being rejected, that we are incapable or worthless, that a circumstance which caused us pain is God’s way of punishing us or that He really doesn’t care… In the moment, these beliefs seem so very real, despite the fact that they simply are not true.
Even Saul needed help to become free from the reality that lead to literal blindness. He allowed someone to explain Truth, which set him free and changed his whole identity—from Saul, the religious Christ-hater, to Paul, the dedicated Christ-follower, and leader of the early church who wrote more of the New Testament than anyone.
I want to encourage you to continue “taking every thought captive to Christ.” Stop yourself and question: “Is this actually true, or just real? What does God see and hear in this circumstance? What’s His interpretation of the facts? He knows this other person’s thoughts and intentions, but I certainly don’t, so I refuse to judge her or him. How can I function like Jesus, with wisdom, compassion, and love (whether that’s “tough” love or empathetic mercy)? If I react according to my flesh, my feelings, and unrecognized false beliefs, rather than respond with wisdom that is from God, I will likely misread the situation, misinterpret that person’s intentions, and react in some foolish manner.”
As you mature and cooperate with God in the lifetime process of transformation, God is the source of all your needs; and there are godly resources available to help and support you. One of these resources is Biblical counseling. Principles To Live By has asked me to participate with them for your edification and encouragement. Feel free to contact me, and I will help you discover and undo/heal/transform/change any false beliefs you may not even realize you hold, those strong, unhelpful feelings that tend to overtake you. These things get in the way of your personal peace and affect all of your relationships. You don’t have to remain in bondage to your temper, fears, hurts, addictions, or any of your negative “stuff.” Freedom is available for you. That's the gospel truth.
I would love to connect with you. You're invited to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you or someone you know would like to set up a counseling appointment, please call me at 612-239-4178. Leave a message, and I will do my best to get back to you within 24 hrs. And may all your relationships become healthy ones!
In God's Lap With You,
Clinical Christian Counselor
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