If you watch one of the many versions of Law and Order on television you may have seen the characters talk about how unreliable eye witness testimony is. You may have watched scenes where several different witnesses give very different accounts of the same incident and found out later every account had some truth in it, and that none of the accounts was “true”.
This is because people have different perspectives. We all see things differently and as a result we judge situations differently.
The other day at church my wife and a friend put some caramel dip into a bowl and filled a plate with apple slices to dip into the caramel. The caramel was really thick and kind of difficult to work with. I pointed this out and suggested we nuke the caramel to soften it. Our friend mentioned me criticizing the dip. This was an interesting twist, I pointed out a potential issue and offered a possible solution. She felt it was criticizing. Very few ate the caramel, if you dipped an apple slice into it the caramel didn't stick to the apple and it was so stiff the apple slice would break if you tried to “scoop” some caramel up. Rather than try warming the caramel they just let it sit there in a fairly unusable clump.
This is pretty typical of human beings. When faced with what we feel is criticism we often would rather stick with what we have than consider the suggestions useful.
Christians point out issues with societal behavior and in very much the way our friend at church ignored the issue with the caramel people ignore the suggestions of the Christians.
My friend at church would feel it was her duty, and Biblical rightly so, to point out issues with someone's Christian walk and yet she behaved the same way the secular community does. Was she wrong to put out the caramel without heating or “improving” it? No. Was I wrong to point out that it could be more useful if we heated it up? No. Was she wrong in criticizing my suggestion as criticism? No.
People don't like to believe or accept they are “wrong” even though Christ tells us no one is Good except God. Who was “wrong” in our caramel discussion at church? Neither of us.
Truthfully mistakes are important to make because in making mistakes, recognizing mistakes and learning from them is the most important thing we can do.
The issue is that it is almost impossible for multiple people to agree on what a “mistake” is because of the different perspectives.
Here is a kicker. Which one of us does God think was right?
Neither of us. God does not have the same perspective people have.
Lets look at a different situation. I worked with one of the guys from Church during a time I was reading the Bible for the sixth time. This version had been published by the Jehovah's Witnesses. This guy criticized the version of the Bible I read, he criticized some of my actions, he criticized my performance as a CNC programmer, my skills as a tool maker, pretty much everything. In fact a lot of the people at that shop criticized me for a lot of things.
As usual I thought about what people were saying, I accepted the criticism I felt was useful and I ignored the criticism I felt was useless.
One issue pretty much describes the vast majority of criticism. This was back in 1998. I had brought in my laptop and I was working on a math problem on my computer. One of the guys brought up a calculator and said, “I use this, I never had a problem I couldn’t figure out with this'” I looked at the guy and said, “I am sure there were people who felt the same way about their slide rules. I ain't one of them” and I went back to working on my laptop.
Who was right? Who was wrong? My perspective is that people who do not adapt and use new technologies eventually stagnate and die. His perspective was that the fancy new tool was no more useful than his old tool. In reality we were both right, based on our individual perspectives.
From my perspective computers had proved their usefulness and place in society by 1998. For others it took much longer to adapt to the new technology. It had to become cheap enough and easy enough to learn that they believed their investment would be returned. Heck, I was sure in 1984 that computers would be household tools. I just couldn't afford one back then.
Don't think I am always right, at one time I thought CF cards were the shiznik and now I own SD cards. Most people seem to own SD cards, micro SD cards, mini-SD cards.
Everyone makes guesses at where technology is going. The people who invest in the winning technology first end up making the most from their investment.
People who jump in too soon and make the wrong pick end up with the wrong digital media card.
People make choices based on their perspective. In reality there wasn't a wrong choice about when or what to get into computers, or digital media cards. There were learning experiences that helped people become better people, or not.
In religion, once we accept that everything we know, everything we are is wrong we become like children and we look to God for everything and we quit depending on our own understanding.
The realization that we are wrong about everything, that every person is wrong about everything is the most important realization a Christian can make because without the realization that our perspective is wrong and so everything we understand is wrong we never become as dependent on God as a child is dependent.
God's perspective is so different that we cannot possible understand it until we “are older”.
This is why Christ tells us we are not Good. This is why Paul tells us that we are all sinners.
You don't start looking for what is right until you know what is wrong.