Image Hosted by

Off the top

A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


For the past several months, I’ve been involved in a sort of review process at my church. It is not easy work. There is conflict.

It’s not hard to recognize spiritual battle going on when there are blatant sins to be seen, but it is harder if the sins are not as obvious. I’m certain, though, that any and every type of interpersonal conflict reflects spiritual battle, even if the conflict is not violent.

Our enemy, the Deceiver, is good at the subtle stuff, is he not?

I’ve been thinking about something another person involved in the process at my church said: there is confusion as to distinctions between fact, perception, and judgment.

I’ve noticed that the more conflict exists between people, the more perception is considered to be fact and the more judgment occurs, as opposed to recognition or acknowledgment of fact. Yet how often, during interpersonal conflict, do we think beyond perception and judgment (not to be confused with discernment) and even “material” fact to the real, factual spiritual dynamics which are occurring?


Another thing I’ve been noticing lately is…trees. Leafless trees, that is. I’ve been observing them and photographing them. I find them fascinating. I find comparison of the structures of different species to be really interesting. (OK, so I’m a little weird :-) ) To me, leafless trees are beautiful, expressive, elegant, intricate, patterned, stark, dazzling, and more. But here’s the funny thing: there was a time when naked trees did not appear beautiful to me at all. In fact, I thought they were ugly. I would look around and see nothing but dark, veiny, exposed-looking, witchy things.

What a difference in my perception from then to now! But why? What caused this change? I can only attribute it to the fact that I am a much different person now than I was before, spiritually-speaking. I view and experience life in a very different way. A lot of what things represent to me now is much different. Not that I don’t still have my goblins, but even the goblins are different too.

The ugly has been transformed.

Which brings me back to interpersonal conflict, and the spiritual dimension behind it. When there is an unloving attitude in the heart, one perceives what people say in a much different way than when there is an open, caring, forgiving, and secure attitude in the heart. When one has an open attitude, what people mean to say by their words and actions becomes much more readily evident, and what is not evident can be inquired into. When one holds an adversarial attitude, however, there is little or no receptiveness or trust within one’s heart. There is instead contempt, or fear of hurt. What people say is not seen so much as an expression of their heart as it is seen in caricature, or as some sort of assault on the hearer. The heart full of fear, pain, or anger can then quickly turn evil, turning what was said around to represent fault of the speaker. People doing this misinterpret one another and often do not care to be corrected.

Even reception of truly evil speech or action is different depending on the heart of the one who receives it. The receiver is incited to anger, rage, grief, or compassion. Or maybe some of each. It all comes down to the attitude of the heart, though, and to habits, preconceived notions, affinities, etc. This is why we need to allow the truth of God’s love -- the real, true love -- to transform us, so that we no longer walk in a worldly way but in a way that is spiritually redemptive.


Post a Comment

<< Home