Our reality is one of perception. It can be no other way. Our 5 senses, and their ability to perceive the world around us are astonishing, but they are limited, and those limitations are different in each one of us. The perception of a blind person is not the same as the perception of a seeing person.
Our ability to perceive includes intuition, or revelation, or the Holy Spirit – whatever we wish to call it – that tool of perception that we call spiritual because we don’t really understand its “mechanics”.
Then, all of this input is filtered through our experiences, our desires, our hopes, our fears, prejudices, jealousies, etc. All of this makes our perception of the world around us very, very personal – perhaps even a definition of who we are – yet it remains incomplete. We do not have, or have not developed, the tools to perceive all truth and all reality.
In this way perhaps we can begin to understand how the world is our mirror. In other words, we perceive according to what is within us – that very, very personal and very, very incomplete engine of perception that is…us.
When we apply this perception to others, we combine two beings of perception to form a relationship. What we perceive in others can be nothing other than a reflection of ourselves. It can be no other way. We cannot possibly perceive in others something that is not, at minimum, a part of our experience and understanding. In this way, everything that we perceive in others is perceived through empathy. You truly cannot “make this stuff up”. Our perception of others must exist within us or we would not be able to perceive it in the first place.
So what do we wish to see in the mirror that is our relationship with others?
Do we wish to see judgment? Do we wish to have harshness, fear, hatred, guile, guilt, reflected back to us in this great relationship mirror? If we generate such a reflection by assigning these attributes to others, they invariably must become part of us. Try as we might, we cannot push them away, for they must begin within us before we can assign them to others.
But if we, instead, wish to have love, and peace, and sincerity, and a desire for righteousness and all that is good reflected back to us, as part of our experience, we must strive to perceive that in others. The idea of separation is actually an illusion, and is not reality. Since we can only perceive in others that which we perceive in ourselves, in this way, we are all one.
This, of course, lends yet another meaning to Jesus’ biblical plea that we “love our neighbor as ourselves”. The love with which we perceive others is reflected right back to us. That love that we extend to others becomes part of who we are. Love just gets bigger when you give it away!
A little over a year ago, I published a post entitled simply, “Grace”. In it, I defined “grace” as “the desire, willingness, and ability to love and accept others as they are…now”. I have tested that definition over the past 15 months or so, and, for me, that definition has held up well, The more I test it, the more I realize that it contains profound, eternal truth.
There are many beliefs about Jesus, and about Christ. I have sought diligently for much of my life to “know Him”. What has been revealed has led me into and out of organized religion, but always toward a greater knowledge of Jesus, of Christ, and of who and what he truly is.
And I think “grace” defines very well what it means to become Christ. Christ, then, is one who perfected the “desire, willingness, and ability” to love others for who they are…now”.
I also believe that this “Christ” is within each of us.
Finally, I believe that this is the key to the fulfillment that we all seek for ourselves. This key is that we seek that fulfillment first in others, and then it will blossom within us.
It came to me with great love this morning, on New Year’s Day, 2021, that this is our purpose on earth – to seek first the kingdom of heaven, the Christ, the grace in each and every person that we meet and, in doing so, release that Christ, that grace, within us. This is how we love our neighbor as ourselves.
Love. Christ. Grace. When we perceive this in the world around us, in the people around us, we glorify and magnify it in ourselves.
My hope is that each of us can find it within ourselves to first perceive, recognize, and then celebrate the sincerity, the love, the beauty, the perfection, the grace, even the Christ in each person that we meet; that we will cease pushing others away by judging them with destructive judgment; and instead create the true Kingdom of Heaven on earth.