Are you familiar with the Thomas theorem? The idea is that, what you believe about a situation affects the consequences. The outcome is based on our perception of the situation. Let me give you some examples:

  • If a child raised in a dysfunctional family is constantly told he is dumb, he’ll believe that. The consequence: he assumes he is too dumb to learn, so he never learns.
  • In my cycling days, a snake on the road would stop me dead in my tracks. I wasn’t going to move until the snake did. I would still be there today, frozen in my tracks, if others hadn’t come by and walked blissfully by that snake … er, stick. As long as I believed that stick was a snake, the outcome would be the same: I’d stand there unmoved.
  • Remember the infamous toilet paper shortage of 2020? There was no shortage, but the idea began to circulate that there was a shortage. People reacted to what they believed was true, and in the process, they actually created a shortage.

Your perception of things does make a difference. You may be flat out wrong, but your perception makes a difference in how you respond.

In my previous blog, I referenced the opinions of both church goers and Americans in general regarding matters of the Christian faith.

  • If 52 percent of Americans do not believe Jesus is God, that belief will likely keep them from putting their faith in Christ for salvation.
  • Truth points to Jesus as the only way to the Father (John 14:6), but if someone’s perception disagrees and says there are many ways to God, he may likely trust in a false religion—and end up eternally lost.

Such perceptions determine their outcome. There are serious consequences—eternal consequences—for those who choose to believe and follow their own truth or reality. Even among Christians, a wrong perception of what it means to follow Christ leads many to wear themselves out trying to please God rather than resting in the truth of His grace and love.

Truth matters—and my perception and understanding of that truth matters. If I misunderstand or misapply God’s truth, I can miss out on so many benefits and blessings of walking with God as He desires me to.

Several months ago, I began reading Wayne Grudem’s large volume Systematic Theology. Don’t dismiss that as excessively nerdy or academic. I am reading it devotionally each morning. This particular book is well written, and I find it easy to read. I am only reading 1-2 pages each morning (and at 1200+ pages, I’ll be here awhile), but it is underscoring what is important. In the hands of the right person, doctrine is not boring! (And shame on those of us who make doctrine—the truths and teachings revealed by God—boring.)

Why am I reading a book of systematic theology? I am committed to truth, and I want to ensure I am walking in the truth. I do not want to be lead or influenced by my own misguided opinions or perceptions. Those only get me in trouble.

Join me in this. Read the Bible. Study the Bible. Study doctrine. Study theology. Study and discuss the Bible with others. Get grounded in God’s Word. Know what you believe—and why.

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