Summary: How much do our assumptions and expectations limit us from seeing the real Jesus?

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God is Always Working

Series: Naturally Supernatural

Brad Bailey – September 29, 2013


Social science has revealed a truth that can serve us well: WE T SEE REALITY AS IT IS...BUT ACCORDING TO PRECONCEIVED PARADIGMS

Back in the 1940's, two researchers conducted an interesting experiment regarding people's ability to perceive unexpected facts. The researchers presented the subjects with a series of playing cards and asked the subjects to identify the cards. Most of the cards were normal, but some were deliberately made unusual: for example, red spades or black hearts.

The subjects of the experiment were shown a single card and then asked to identify what they had seen. When shown the "normal" cards, the subjects always responded correctly. The subjects shown the unusual cards, however, almost always "saw" normal playing cards!

They responded without any hesitation or questioning: The card was "fit" into a category that corresponded to the subjects, prior experience of playing cards. In a very real sense, the subjects had not even seen anything different than what they had expected.

Only when the researchers increased the exposure time to the unusual cards did the subjects begin to hesitate and display any awareness that they were viewing something out of the ordinary. Even then, the subjects desired to fit what they were seeing into their prior expectations. Exposed, for example, to a red five of spades, one of the subjects said, "that is the five of spades, but something is wrong with it. It has a black border"

Further increases in the exposure time resulted in even more hesitation and puzzlement until finally, and often quite suddenly, most subjects understood what was going on and were able to correctly identify the unusual playing cards. A fascinating side note was that several subjects were never able to adjust their prior categories or expectations. Even at forty times the average exposure necessary to recognize normal cards, several subjects were simply unable to correctly identity the unusual cards.

Importance of paradigms.

According to Thomas Kuhn's famous study of the our understanding ...

Our understanding of reality is not simply shaped by what we see...but by how we see. Our understanding is shaped by "paradigms." A paradigm is a way of looking at the world that is influenced by personal and cultural ideas that shape perception. In other words, we do not view the world "as it is," but through the lens of assumptions and collective cultural ideas.

All of us look at the world through a set of assumptions and expectations. An easy way to think about a paradigm is to compare it to a pair of glasses that one wears when looking out at the world. Often, in fact almost always, one is not even aware that he or she is wearing a pair of glasses. [1]

As we continue in our series entitled Naturally Supernatural…we must consider how clearly we understand and perceive what God is doing.

At one point the religious leaders get upset at Jesus healing a man because it was the Sabbath. He hadn't broken the actual commands of God...but rather their traditions. It was outside what they understood. Jesus declares:

John 5:17 (NIV)

"My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working."

Jesus declares the way things really are...and it is...

The Shift that Changes Everything

Most of us don't live in that constant awareness...we might believe it is true...but we don't actually engage such a constant connection.

In the midst of the busyness of our lives, it is easy to forget that God is actively involved in the lives of people around us. We often have many interactions with people in a day—our family members, co-workers, friends, the man at the grocery store register, the woman bothering us with a solicitation phone call during dinner. Without exception, God has a plan for each of these people and He is actively, intimately involved in their lives to work toward the end which He desires. He loves them immensely and dreams more for them than they are able to dream for themselves. He desires to bless them, calling them out of darkness and into His light. If our desire is to be Christ’s ambassadors on earth—not merely seeking to minister to people out of pious compulsion or in order to put another proverbial notch in our religious belts—then we must learn to look at people through the lens of God’s love for them. We can rest in the knowledge that God is always actively and lovingly involved in the lives of the people around us. Our job is to simply join Him in His activity. [2]

Jesus Reveals Living in Relationship to the Father's Work

A great example is the encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman as described in the Gospel of John

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