Someone once said that "perception is reality." This is a great statement that speaks volumes about the way we interact with each other. I learned how true it was the other day when I received an email from a friend of mine who took exception to an article I passed on to him and a few others.
My friend read this article and immediately jumped to the conclusion that I was bashing not only his political candidate but a whole other class of people. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. Yet, his own internal filters picked up certain words and he jumped to a conclusion without regard to our friendship and our history.
He did exactly what he accused me of doing. He put me in a stereotype and found me guilty. The truth is that I was guilty because I had sent him that article. It didn't matter what it said. What mattered was how he took it. For that is what got him going. He perceived that article as an attack on what he believes in. I should have been more sensitive.
I think that is what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he said that even if all things are lawful, it doesn't mean we should do them. We need to be sensitive to others feelings and perceptions. We don't always need to be right or to prove our point. We need to consider how others will see what we are saying or doing.
I've always believed that dialogue is important. We need to talk to each other, build relationships, and find common ground if we are going to be true to God. So it means understanding that everything we say and do can be taken in more ways than we know. It means living with the truth that perception is reality and that if we want to serve God, we need to remember that whenever we do something.